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The natural history of a social 
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The natural history of a social 
Institution the Young Women f s 
Christian Association 




DATE DUE 



JAN 196$ 



44J 



2 9 IIS 



L-16 



The Natural History of 

a Social Institution 
the Young Women's 
Christian Association 



MARY S. SIMS 



1936 
THE WOMANS PRESS 

NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1935, BY 

THE NATIONAL BOARD OF THE YOUNG WOMEN'S 

CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATIONS OF THE 

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



BUNTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY J. J. LITTLE AND IVES COMPANY, NEW Y Q k K 



FOREWORD 
The Problem and the Methods Used 

npHis study is an attempt to discuss what actually hap- 
-- pened to the Young Women's Christian Association 
in the United States of America from its beginning in 
1858 to the year 19345 to show its growth and develop- 
ment as a social institution j to relate the general course 
of events within the institution itself to the wider happen- 
ings in the social, economic and religious life of the United 
States, particularly as it affected women; and to discover 
generalizations and identify concepts which may be com- 
mon to social institutions or show evidences of such de- 
velopment. 

In carrying out this study, four major difficulties were 
encountered. The first of these difficulties was the decision 
as to the method of presentation. After giving careful 
consideration to the topical approach as over against the 
chronological, the time sequence seemed of sufficient im- 
portance to attempt the use of both methods. The first 
three chapters, therefore, present as simply and directly 
as possible the major events in their chronological order 
in the life of the Association itself, with little related mate- 
rial, while the remaining chapters, taking up as separate 
topics the major concerns of the Young Women's Christian 
Association over the years, attempt to relate the work of 
the Association to its social setting. As is inevitable in this 
dual method of presentation, there is a certain amount of 
Ci'iY (LiU.) PU^UO Hi 

' 



History of a Social Institution 



duplication. As far as possible, and consistent with main- 
taining clarity, this duplication has been eliminated. 

The second difficulty encountered was the problem of 
the nature of the available sources. So far as it is possible 
to determine, for the early years, that is from 1858 to 
1900, all the available printed material was consulted. 
Nevertheless, even in the comparatively small amount of 
material available from these early years it has been con- 
tinually necessary to evaluate and select. 

This early material falls roughly into two classifications: 
official documents consisting of the proceedings of confer- 
ences and conventions and in some cases of meetings of 
boards of local Associations *, and unofficial material con- 
sisting very largely of articles printed in Association maga- 
zines and of reports, both typewritten and printed, of 
speeches, meetings and related events. From 1900 on, the 
amount of printed material available was very large and 
a selective process was necessary. Of the official records, 
all printed reports to and proceedings of national conven- 
tions have been used, and all other printed reports of 
the national organization or of sections of the organization, 
such as the reports of the War Work Council from 1917 
to 1920. In addition, for these later years a number of 
unofficial documents consisting of correspondence, un- 
published manuscripts, minutes of meetings, typewritten 
reports, as well as the official magazine the Association 
Monthly, later the Womatis Press have all been used. 

As the material is all relatively recent, the question of 
the authenticity of the documents did not arise. In any 
case, if a piece of material, typewritten or printed, was 
without date or source, it was not used. Generally speaking, 
the material available has been of unequal quantity and 
value. In the earlier years the quantity was small, and 
iv 



The Problem and, the Methods Used 

even so late as the period of the World War, reports 
and written documents are fragmentary and in some cases 
of doubtful accuracy. It is to be regretted that between 
1915 and 1920, when no national conventions were held, 
records equal in value to the convention records were not 
kept. 

As has been said above, while the question of authen- 
ticity in its simpler sense of who wrote an article and at 
what date seldom if ever arose, there was the more difficult 
question of the value of the written report or record. Just 
what values were uppermost in the mind of each writer 
and what facts or opinions were suppressed must remain 
in many cases uncertain. 

In considering this question of credibility of sources it 
should be remembered, all the way through, that this 
book is the record of the work of an organization which 
was and is primarily a group of people concerned with 
making life worth while for others as well as for them- 
selves, and that, particularly in the early years, this group 
of active leaders was a highly homogeneous and like- 
minded group. Moreover, a good part of their like- 
mindedness consisted in a particular point of view about 
religion and the Christian faith. To this fact, and prob- 
ably also to their adherence to the general tradition o 
gentleness and meekness in gentlewomen, is perhaps due 
the lack of any record of discord or disagreements in the 
early days of the organization. A much relished story 
handed down by word of mouth in the Association is of 
the president who used to close each meeting of the board 
of directors by saying, "Ladies, this has been a sweet meet- 
ing. All motions have been passed unanimously and no 
differences of opinion have been registered." This period 
passed and later years show plenty of differences of opin- 



History of a Social Institution 



ion, but they show also few divergences that led to actual 
splits in organization or withdrawal of groups of the 
membership. To the concept of unity Association leader- 
ship has ever given more than lip service. This is so 
evident that the question inevitably arises, Has the price 
of this so-well-guarded unity been excessive? 

To the fact that for the first fifty years of its existence 
the Young Women's Christian Association was apparently 
of little interest to anyone outside its immediate circle is 
due the lack of reference to or comment on the organiza- 
tion in the general studies made of social work, social 
movements, and even of religious movements in the 
United States. Not until the great expansion both locally 
and nationally which came at the time of the World War 
did the Young Women's Christian Association receive the 
recognition of cooperative relationship with other social 
agencies and with religious groups. 

In addition to the written material available as sources, 
interviews with individuals connected with the organization 
over long periods have been used. Such interviews have 
served as a check on selection and evaluation rather than 
as a source of factual information and at times have served 
to illuminate motives that in the written record were 
obscure. 

The third difficulty involved was that of the personal 
equation in selecting and eliminating material. Even with 
as limited a subject as one institution over a period of 
seventy-five years and with the possibility of examining 
all or nearly all the extant available material, neverthe- 
less questions of selection and elimination constantly arose. 
The author is quite aware that a subjective element was 
inevitable. Constant check by referring to those who 
have had long personal connection with the organization, 
vi 



The Problem and the Methods Used 

either as lay or professional workers, has, it is hoped, 
somewhat modified this subjective element. The attempt 
has been constant to pursue all along the way lines of 
thought and action that have shown persistence or repeti- 
tion. It is obvious that decisions as to relative importance 
of events, policy and program have had to be made, and 
that in such decisions an element of subjective approach 
has entered. An attempt has been made to make these 
decisions in the light of subsequent events. If, for instance, 
over the years a particular type of program has grown 
and expanded, it is assumed that the beginnings of that 
program were of consequence. 

The fourth difficulty involved was discovering whether 
the generalizations that grew out of the material and the 
concepts that could be identified were valid for social in- 
stitutions and are possible of verification through further 
studies of social institutions. In other words, there was the 
attempt not only to record growth and development but 
also to explain the nature of these processes. 

In order to follow more closely the somewhat complex 
history a chronological table has also been developed. 
Much of this, for the early years, is taken from Fifty 
Years of Association Work Among Yotwg Women y writ- 
ten in 1915 by Elizabeth Wilson. In the appendix are 
included various documents of important source material, 
such as the different Christian membership tests of the 
organization, that seem necessary for reference although 
too lengthy to include in the text. The final process of 
evaluation has been the critical reading of the document 
by six individuals related to the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association in different capacities over a long period 
of years. 

There are distinct limitations to this study and the 

vii 



History of a Social Institution 



opinions or conclusions expressed in it. Relatively speaking, 
it covers a recent period, and the question has been raised 
by writers on the historical method as to the possibility 
of treating recent data satisfactorily as history. 

It would, however, seem doubtful wisdom to postpone 
the writing of the story of a social institution until the 
verdict of the years is, in, when by that time the organiza- 
tion itself, built as it is into the immediacies of the fabric 
of living, may have ceased to exist or to be of any interest 
to anyone. 

A further and serious limitation of this study has been 
referred to, namely, the almost uniformly laudatory char- 
acter of the written comments during the early years of 
the Young Women's Christian Association in this country. 
For this reason official records have been the main and in 
many cases the only source of factual data. As was pointed 
out, the fact that the organization was of little interest 
outside its own ranks precluded the corrective of out- 
side and critical comment. Moreover, the habit of constant 
analysis and survey of work and program by independent 
agencies that has developed in social work in more recent 
years was unknown in the last century. It would of course 
be a simple task, but one of hindsight, to point out, in the 
light of the experience and knowledge available in the 
nineteen-thirties, the mistakes, the errors in judgment, the 
complacency of these early leaders of the Young Women's 
Christian Association. 

A list of source materials is included at the end of each 
chapter. 

Acknowledgment is due to the many individuals who 
have read all or portions of the manuscript, answered 
questions, and assisted in finding material. 



vtu 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I THE BEGINNINGS OF THE YOUNG WOMEN'S 

CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION 1855-1871 . . I 

II A GROWING MOVEMENT 1871-1906 . 18 

Two National Movements 

International Board 
American Committee 

Beginning of World Organization 

III RECENT YEARS 1906-1934 53 

Total Movement 

Present National Organization 

IV THE WOMAN MOVEMENT AND THE YOUNG 

WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION . . 79 

V RELIGION AND THE YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRIS- 
TIAN ASSOCIATION 95 

VI THE YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIA- 
TION AND ITS FOREIGN PROGRAM . . . 1 25 

VII PIONEERING 148 

VIII STRAINS AND STRESSES 163 

Internationalism 
Race Relations 

Influence of Public Opinion 

ix 



Contents 

CHAPTER 

IX THE YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIA- 
TION IN TIMES OF CRISIS 

The World War 
The Depression 

X BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS 2,03 

Group Developments 
Fellowship 

XI TAKING STOCK FOR THE FUTURE . . - 219 
Ever-Receding Goals 
Changing Attitudes Toward Leadership 

APPENDIX 233 

Christian Bases for Determining Eligi- 
bility to Affiliation with the National 
Organization 

Chronological Table 
INDEX 249 



THE NATURAL HISTORY OF 
A SOCIAL INSTITUTION 



CHAPTER I 

The Beginnings of the Young Women's Christian 
A ssociation 1 855- 1871 

THE "Association idea," starting first among young 
men, arose and spread with great spontaneity in 
the middle of the nineteenth century. It is difficult to de- 
cide from existing records whether credit for the begin- 
nings should go to Germany, to Switzerland, or to Eng- 
land. Young men came together for Bible study and fel- 
lowship in Germany and Switzerland some years before 
such gatherings directly resulting in the organization of 
Young Men's Christian Associations can be traced in Eng- 
land. While in all three countries much of the vitality of 
the movements came from the renewed strength of the 
evangelical churches, nevertheless, of the three, the be- 
ginnings in England were least closely connected with 
the church and professional church leadership and more 
permeated with that interdenominational character which 
has come to be considered basic to the "Association idea." 
From England also came the earnest attempts to apply 
Christian standards to problems of daily life and behavior. 
An unusual element in the situation lay in the fact that 
such an idea, so vital a part of the Christian life, could be 
promoted by an organization outside the churches. 

While all this was happening to young men, an individ- 
ual here and there began to realize that women and girls 

i 



History of a Social Institution 



too were in need of "opportunities for recreation, instruc- 
tion and Christian companionship." There were simul- 
taneous beginnings of this awareness of the needs of 
women in Germany and in England. In Germany the 
work was closely related to the State church; in England 
the religious impetus had less relation to organized church 
work and was more directly led by women. 

In England there were two separate beginnings to what 
eventually became the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation the Prayer Union, started quite simply by Miss 
Emma Robarts in 1855 among her own friends "for their 
mutual benefit and for that of any young women in their 
respective spheres whom they might be enabled to influ- 
ence for good"; and the General Female Training In- 
stitute, founded also in 1855 in London by the Honorable 
Mrs. Arthur Kinnaird, and originally a home for nurses 
returning from the Crimean War. 

The list of young women for whom the group led by 
Miss Robarts in 1855 prayed is as follows: 

1. Our Princesses and all who are in the glitter of fashion- 
able life. 

2. Daughters at home of the middle classes. 

3. Young wives and mothers. 

4. Governesses in families and teachers in day and Sunday 
schools. 

5. Shop women, dressmakers, milliners and seamstresses. 

6. Domestic servants. 

7. Factory girls. 

8. Young women in our Unions, hospitals, and reforma- 
tories; the criminal and the fallen. 

9. Those who are enchained by Judaism, Popery and 
Heathenism. 



The Beginnings of the Association 

We see from this list that one section of the British 
beginnings was from its inception concerned, in thought 
at least, with a complete cross-section of the woman life 
of England and with a missionary look toward the rest 
of the world. 

Both these organizations spread rapidly to other parts 
of England through the contagious enthusiasm of their 
leadership and the acceptableness to young women of the 
objectives of the movements. In 1877 the Honorable Mrs. 
Kinnaird and Miss Robarts met informally for the first 
time at the offices of the Prayer Union and decided to 
bring the two organizations together under the name of 
the Young Women's Christian Association. Miss Robarts 
explained the adoption of this name "simply as the femi- 
nine of Young Men's, which had already become known 
to many of the same friends." Evidently no greater for- 
mality was needed to bring about this union than the 
mutual agreement of the two leaders over a cup of tea. 

Miss Robarts died soon after this plan was made, and 
when the reorganization was completed, Mrs. Kinnaird 
became vice-president of the London Division and Mrs. 
Pennefather, of the Prayer Union Group, became vice- 
president of a Country and Foreign Division, with the 
Earl of Shaftesbury as president. 

These early instances of organization of women for 
women grew naturally out of the conditions in England 
at that time. The mid- Victorian age was bringing many 
changes, particularly in the work-opportunities open to 
women outside their own homes. After the Crimean War 
women began to come in increasing numbers from the 
provinces up to London to find work, in the same way 
that in the United States after the Civil War women 
gathered in the cities seeking self-support. 

3 



History of a Social Institution 



Meanwhile, in the United States also women were be- 
ginning to consider not only their own situation but that 
of other women less fortunately placed than themselves. 
By the eighteen-fifties some observant persons began to 
realize that "woman's place in the home" was, because of 
the developments of the industrial revolution, rapidly 
diminishing in scope and power. Up to that time the 
traditional occupations of women who attempted to be 
wholly or partially self-supporting were domestic service, 
teaching and sewing. The invention of the sewing machine 
in 1846 began to change all that. No longer could the 
paternal or fraternal homestead absorb productively the 
labors of an indefinite number of "females." Not only had 
most of the processes connected with the making of cloth- 
ing spinning, weaving, dyeing, dressmaking and tailor- 
ing become factory work through the introduction of ma- 
chinery, but many of the tasks connected with day-to-day 
living, such as laundry work and some forms of cooking, 
were also becoming factory processes. Historically these 
were woman's tasks, and quite naturally she followed them 
to the factory, the bakery and the laundry all the more 
certainly if she happened to be unmarried or a young 
widow, as was often the case in the years of the Civil 
War, 

Even in those early years of industry, when almost 
no one was aware of or sensitive to the many abuses of 
the factory system (because few realized the difference 
between working long hours in the home and working 
even longer hours amid the noise and demanding pressure 
of machinery), there were a few persons who perceived 
the necessity for changing and controlling those conditions, 
or at least for mitigating their evil effects. 

While there is no clear line of connection between the 



The Beginnings of the Association 

beginnings of Association work in England and the be- 
ginnings in America, it is very interesting to note that 
only a few years after the Prayer Unions were first estab- 
lished in England a Ladies 5 Christian Association was or- 
ganized in New York City. In February of 1858 Mrs. 
Marshall O. Roberts formed a Union Prayer Circle which 
met in a church lecture room for some months. In Novem- 
ber of that same year this was organized into a Ladies' 
Christian Association with thirty-five members. Its first 
work was holding religious meetings among self-support- 
ing young women, and its stated object was to labor for 
the temporal, moral and spiritual welfare of self-support- 
ing young women. 

In 1860 this group opened a boarding home for young 
women, and in 1866 the name of the organization was 
changed to the Ladies' Christian Union. In 1 870 a Young 
Ladies' Branch of this Union was formed, a branch which 
grew so quickly in power and strength that in 1871 it was 
reorganized under the name of the Young Ladies' Chris- 
tian Association of the City of New York. This new branch 
of work, started at a time when it was unusual for a group 
of young women by themselves to undertake a philan- 
thropic enterprise, above all one requiring sound business 
management, rented a room on the top floor of a ware- 
house on University Place and equipped it to meet the 
need of women wage-earners in New York. It became a 
sort of club house for these women, and was the center 
from which grew the widespread work of the pres- 
ent Young Women's Christian Association of New York 
City. 

Owing to the difference in name, the New York City 
Association is not called the oldest Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association in the United States. This distinction has 

5 



History of a Social Institution 



been given to the Boston Association, organized in 1866, 
because it was the first to use the name "Young Women's 
Christian Association." As early as 1859 Mrs. Lucretia 
Boyd, a city missionary in Boston, became greatly dis- 
tressed by the serious situation that confronted self-sup- 
porting girls, and appealed to a group of church women, 
setting before them facts from her diary extending over 
several years. She then asked, "Cannot something be done 
by benevolent ladies that shall remain a permanent in- 
stitution?" 

In spite of the eagerness of these "benevolent ladies" 
to do something, the necessity for doing it was not recog- 
nized by Boston men, particularly by the pastors of the 
Boston churches, and their efforts were discouraged. Sev- 
eral years went by before organization was actually accom- 
plished. On March 3, 1866, thirty ladies met at the home 
of Mrs. Henry F. Durant and adopted a constitution 
under the name of the Boston Young Women's Christian 
Association. Its object was "the temporal, moral and re- 
ligious welfare of young women who are dependent on 
their own exertions for support." 

This Boston Young Women's Christian Association, like 
the earlier "institutes" and "unions" in England, grew 
out of the needs of young women. The rural civilization 
of New England was rapidly changing. The home, in 
the sense of a self-sustaining community, was breaking up. 
In a world in which many women and girls were self- 
supporting and without home ties it was natural to turn 
for help to Christian women who were church leaders, not 
only because they represented one of the few groups of 
women who had an active interest in affairs outside their 
own homes but also because in those days the business 
6 



The Beginnings of the Association 

of providing a home carried with it the obligation of re- 
ligious influence as well as of care and protection. 

The religious revival in the eastern part of the United 
States during 1857 an d 1858, which broke down denomi- 
national lines and greatly stimulated religious fervor and 
the impulse to good deeds, did much also to make possible 
the forming of a religious organization on an undenomina- 
tional basis. 

After these beginnings in New York and Boston, Young 
Women's Christian Associations sprang up in city after 
city. In 1867, Providence, Hartford and Pittsburgh were 
organized. In 1868, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis. 
In 1870, Dayton, Utica, Washington, D. C, Buffalo and 
Philadelphia were organized. In 1871, Germantown, New- 
ark and Springfield, Massachusetts. In the "Proceedings 
of the Third International Conference of Women's Chris- 
tian Associations," held in Pittsburgh in 1875, reports are 
given of the work of 28 Associations in the United States. 
Of these Associations, 13 report that they maintain board- 
ing homes with an average capacity of about fifty. Five 
report that these boarding homes are self-supporting. Ten 
report Bible classes, 21 prayer meetings, 15 that they 
helped young women to find employment, 10 that they 
have libraries 5 7 report that they maintain sewing schools j 
5 report classes in "secular branches" comprising history, 
writing and bookkeeping ; 7 report that they furnish en- 
tertainments of a varied character for young women, 2 
that they have restaurants, 8 that they have temporary 
lodgings for young women, and 14 that they own property 
valued at from $3,000 to $205,000, with a total valuation 
of $793,900. The membership of these 28 Associations is 
estimated, with 6 Associations not reporting, at 8,604. 

7 



History of a Social Institution 



One of the continuing characteristics of the Young 
Women's Christian Association has been its capacity for 
propagating itself without direct promotion and with great 
rapidity. Its history is an example of the attraction of an 
idea and of the dynamic of person to person contact. As the 
number of Associations grew, other groups, organized for 
similar purposes, changed their names in order to become 
a part of this ongoing movement which was capturing 
the imagination of women in so many places. This same 
ongoing quality has persisted through the years. Asso-, 
ciations are still springing up because some one or two 
persons in a community have known the Young Women's 
Christian Association in another place; and nearly every 
year one or more groups organized under other names 
or for other purposes are asking to become Young 
Women's Christian Associations. 

In a few instances, over the years, Young Women's 
Christian Associations have been discontinued in some 
cases by formal action, in others by unofficial disintegration. 
Student Associations and those in rural districts are most 
subject to this short tenure of life, in part due probably 
to the entire lack of institutional features, which in the 
case of Associations in larger or less specialized communi- 
ties have served to tide over the recurring periods of inade- 
quate leadership and lack of clarity of function. 

All reports in these early years emphasize the Chris- 
tian motivation both in organization and in type of work 
done. The following statement occurs in a summary report 
made in 1876: 

But above all, the great aim of the Associations is to win 
souls for Christ, and it is this object which occupies the best 
thoughts and noblest efforts of those engaged in the work. 

8 



The Beginnings of the Association 

Yet of this part of the work, the results cannot be counted 
up. They will be known only on that day when the 
Searcher of all hearts shall say to those who have been faith- 
ful in the discharge of this duty, "Inasmuch as ye have done 
it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done 



The word "Christian" is constantly used. The providing 
of a Christian home, the leadership of Christian women, 
the effect of Christian influences and similar phrases show 
how uppermost in the minds of these women was the 
consciousness of the reason for their work. 

Meanwhile the programs of the newly organized Asso- 
ciations were growing rapidly, with no more specific goal 
in mind than that of providing the influence and protection 
of a Christian home for women and girls who had left 
their own homes to come to the cities in order to be self- 
supporting. 

The new Boston Association quickly established itself 
in rooms, comfortably furnished and provided with books 
and magazines and a "loaned piano." A general secretary 
was also engaged, of "attractive personality and lovable 
disposition." It is interesting to note that thus early in 
Association history many of the present programs had their 
beginning. The general secretary helped girls to find jobs 
and places to live 5 luncheons were served in the Associa- 
tion rooms 5 recreation and educational classes were offered. 

From the records of the Boston Association, drawn from 
the diary of Mrs. Lucretia Boyd, the city missionary who 
was instrumental in organizing that Association, comes the 
following statement: 

Its records revealed a deplorable state of things in regard 
to the working girls of Boston. She found the majority in 

9 



History of a Social Institution 



attic rooms of lodging houses, with the lower stories occu- 
pied chiefly by young men, many boarding themselves, and 
struggling with poverty, loneliness and isolation; neglected 
in sickness, helpless when out of work, and subject to chance 
acquaintances from among the lower strata of society. They 
seldom found their way into social circles, but few proved 
to be regular churchgoers, and only an occasional one in 
the Sunday school. 2 

It is no wonder that under these circumstances the 
boarding home later called the Association residence 
should have been a major feature of the programs. What 
those girls needed more than anything else, apparently, 
was a comfortable, safe, cheap place to live. 

Next to a home, a job was the most important need. 
Very rapidly the Associations took on the duties of in- 
formal employment bureaus. For a long time this was 
done in the simplest possible fashion through the personal 
acquaintance of one woman or another with an employer. 

All the simple homely desires were gradually being 
taken care of through the developing program. Sewing 
machines, still a novelty, were provided that girls might 
make and alter their own clothes; opportunities for simple 
home recreation and music for entertaining their friends 
these too were found in the early years. A wide variety 
of occupations was represented in the boarding homes even 
in very early days. The following statement is taken from 
a report of the New York City Association for 1876: 

The members of the "Home" family are, as previously 
stated, employed as clerks, milliners, dressmakers, teachers 
in mission and other schools, students at Cooper Institute, in 
phonography, telegraphy, and School of Design, contrib- 
utors to the press, copyists, artists, students of the Academy 

IO 



The Beginnings of the Association 

of Design, medical students, editors, Bible-readers, city mis- 
sionaries, engravers, machine-operators, and teachers, lace 
and feather makers, workers in crape, employees of paper 
pattern establishments, etc. 3 

It is no wonder that a varied program was demanded 
and that the work of this Association grew with rapidity. 
It was, however, only a short time before these women 
who had had their attention drawn in the first place to 
the needs of young working girls, realized the values and 
satisfactions in group organization as a way of service. 
Speedily the Young Women's Christian Associations en- 
larged their function so that they not only provided a 
widely varied program for the girls who lived under their 
roof and for others near by in the community, but also 
began to organize a way by which Christian women could 
give service wherever and of whatever kind needed in 
the community. 

This was a period of almost complete individualism in 
the developing programs of Young Women's Christian 
Associations. The field was wide and singularly free. Social 
work of all kinds was in its beginnings and as a vocation 
for women was still unrecognized. These were undoubt- 
edly the days when the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation developed that taste for pioneering which has in 
all the years since been an outstanding characteristic. 

In looking over the variety of programs in those early 
days, one is astonished at what those women dared and 
what they accomplished. It was still a period when the 
place of women was distinctly in the home, and to assume, 
as they did, responsibilities without adequate financial 
backing was more revolutionary than it is today. The Asso- 
ciation in Dayton, Ohio, in 1876 said, "Our field is our 

II 



History of a Social Institution 



entire city and the public institutions in its vicinity/ 3 and 
they proceeded as far as possible to occupy that field. Of 
the activities for girls and women carried on directly 
through the Associations themselves^ the outstanding were: 
housing, finding work, free lectures and receptions, free 
classes of a wide variety many of them vocational 
libraries, recreation and various social activities. 

It is evident that while in that day recreation was con- 
sidered highly desirable, nevertheless the justification for 
the Young Women's Christian Association's efforts in that 
line was apparently its use as a means toward an end rather 
than as an end in itself. The following quotation from a 
report of the New York City Association in 1879 makes 
clear not only what kind of entertainment seemed to them 
desirable but also the reason for having it: 

First the value. The New York Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association considers entertainments to be of great 
value in its work. As human nature is constituted it craves 
amusement, and we must take human nature as we find it, 
adapting our work to its needs. The hard-working person 
seldom desires to be instructed. She not only desires but seeks 
to be amused. An entertainment is thus the snare we spread 
to catch the birds. When a woman is once within the Asso- 
ciation building, drawn there by an attractive entertainment, 
a cordial invitation to repeat the visit and avail herself of 
the other privileges offered her seldom fails in its object. 
Thus the entertainment becomes the door by which a woman 
enters upon the enjoyment of all other benefits of the Asso- 
ciation, chief among which we rank the Bible class and the 
religious training which is given there. . . . 

Second Forms. The entertainment selected should be 
elevating and noble in character, for we should never forget 
that we seek the highest good of our fellow creatures. Every- 

12 



The Beginnings of the Association 

thing that verges on the vulgar, no matter how amusing, 
should be carefully excluded. Music of a popular nature, 
readings and recitations both pathetic and humorous, stere- 
opticon views and panoramas, are all forms from which to 
select and arrange a series of entertainments for the work- 
ing classes. In the beginning of such a series refreshments 
might be provided as an additional attraction 5 but when the 
series is well established they will not be necessary. The 
entertainments should be given in the evening, as that is the 
only time a working person has for recreation, and they 
should be short, in order that they may refresh and not 
weary the audience. 4 

In the carrying on of Christian service throughout the 
community an even wider variety is found. This divides 
into the actual organization of work, such as homes for 
aged women, the conducting of religious services $ and the 
distribution of flowers, fruit and clothing in soldiers' 
homes, city prisons, workhouses, jails, orphan asylums and 
hospitals. A report from Pittsburgh in 1880 mentions the 
following pieces of work being carried on through that 
Association: Temporary Home for Destitute Women, 
Home for Aged Women, Senana Branch of the Union 
Foreign Missionary Society, Boarding Home in Allegheny, 
Sheltering Arms (apparently a home for unmarried 
mothers), Hospital for Incurables, Gilmore Mission an 
industrial school Hospital Committee. In this report, also, 
they regret that the Ladies' Depository and Exchange for 
Women's Work had had to be abandoned for lack of 
sufficient patronage. In various cities there were organized 
flower missions, day nurseries, orphan asylums, homes for 
widows, training schools for nurses, night schools for 
boys, "retreats for sinful, sorrowing women." In New Bed- 
ford, mothers' meetings were planned and carried out 

13 



History of a Social Institution 



in the mill districts. These groups were made up largely 
of English women, the wives of workers in the textile 
factories. The program was in the main that of a sewing 
society $ material was furnished for garments, and ladies 
read to the women while they sewed. 

The promotion of all this work was not so easy as it 
sounds. Opposition was encountered in many quarters. In 
Boston it was seven years from the time Mrs. Boyd made 
her first reports to groups of Christian women in the 
churches before the Young Women's Christian Association 
could be organized, so strong was the opposition of the 
church leadership to the undertaking of any variety of 
Christian work not directly a part of the church program. 
After programs were started, questions arose as to methods 
and policy. An article in Faith and Works, the local maga- 
zine of the Philadelphia Association which served also 
for all Associations for many years, written in December, 
1876, asks the following pertinent questions as being of 
importance to almost all Associations: 

Is it well for Women's Christian Associations in new 
towns where there are no reading-rooms for young men, to 
open their rooms to young people of both sexes? 

Is it wise for city Associations to open their rooms in the 
evening? 

Will more good result to young women from the use of 
a pleasant Christian place of resort to spend the evening in, 
or will more evil be likely to ensue from the encourage- 
ment to pass through city streets after nightfall? 5 

Moreover, women's organizations were new. Men had 
little confidence in women's ability to organize work out- 
side their own homes, particularly if it involved the rais- 
ing and the spending of a budget. In those early days, 

14 



The Beginnings of the Association 

also, the same necessity existed that has continued to the 
present day, of interpreting the needs of women and girls 
to a community and a public accustomed to think in terms 
of boys and men. It was not easy to convince a giving pub- 
lic, who had given generously to establish Young Men's 
Christian Associations, that an equal responsibility rested 
on them to supply similar equipment for women. In one 
of the 1876 reports the following statement occurs: 

If it be important for the Young Men's Christian Asso- 
ciation to have good buildings, and bright pleasant rooms 
to attract the young men of our land within the influence 
of religion and Christian morality, it is equally important 
that our own Associations should have equally pleasant and 
convenient buildings, where they can offer to the toiling 
young women of our cities the attractions of social relaxation 
books, music, etc. and throw around them the protect- 
ing and refining influences of a Christian Home. 1 

Thus early was started a kind of rivalry in providing 
through the Young Women's Christian Association ma- 
terial equipment for the use of women and girls which 
should be equal to that provided by the Young Men's 
Christian Association for men and boys. 

There were no limits, it would seem, to the responsi- 
bility which these women leaders felt. Their first attention 
was given to those less privileged than themselves and 
obviously in need of material help, but soon they realized 
that not all women of the privileged classes were equipped 
to carry on Christian service, and they began to recognize 
the fact that part of their work must be training women 
for leadership. In 1879 a l n g article appears on Bible 
reading for educated women, emphasizing the necessity 

15 



History of a Social Institution 



for a "deeper and more experiential acquaintance with 
God's Word." 

At this period in the development of the Young 
Women's Christian Association., no training nor technique 
other than personal preparation as Christian workers was 
considered essential for leadership. This was apparently 
interpreted to mean membership in a Protestant evangeli- 
cal church, personal commitment to the Christian faith and 
doctrines as expounded by those churches, and a degree 
of ability to pass on those convictions to others by word or 
deed. 

In reading over the records of these early years the out- 
standing characteristics of these women who in a real sense 
pioneered in Christian social work were their courage and 
resourcefulness and their tremendous energy. Wherever a 
need was brought to their attention, or they saw it for 
themselves, something was done about it. They were fired 
with a missionary zeal and had a great compassion for all 
who were suffering or unfortunate. It was the real dawn- 
ing of a widespread consciousness of responsibility beyond 
their personal circle of family and friends, in the hearts 
and minds of women. That they had the time and the 
opportunity for so much service outside their own homes 
shows, moreover, that the changing industrial and social 
circumstances were beginning to have their effect. Many of 
the processes of living, particularly the making of clothes, 
had gone out of the homes 5 labor-saving devices were 
coming in. Women were looking eagerly for wider educa- 
tional opportunities and for opportunities for self-expres- 
sion which took the form of Christian service. 



16 



The Beginnings of the Association 



SOURCES 

1 Cattell, J. P. "Women's Christian Associations in Amer- 
ica Their Work and Its Results," Faith and Works, I (Au- 
gust, 1876), p. 4. 

2 "Historical Sketch, 1 866-1 89 I," in Twenty- fifth Annual 
Report of the Boston Young Women*s Christian Association 
(1891), pp. 18-24. 

3 "Annual Report of the Ladies' Christian Union of New 
York," Faith and Works, I (August, 1876), p. 13. 

4 "Social Entertainments," Faith and Works, IV (August, 
1879), P- 185. 

* Faith and Works, II (December, 1876), p. 51. 

GENERAL REFERENCES 

Sims, Mary S. The First Twenty- five "Years (New York: 
The Womans Press, 1932). 

Wilson, Elizabeth. Fifty Years of Association Work Among 
Young Women (New York: The Womans Press, 1916). 

Beard, Charles and Mary. The Rise of American Civiliza- 
tion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1928), Vol. II, 
ch. XX. 

Finley, Ruth E. The Lady of Godey's: Sarah Josef ha Hale 
(Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1931). 



CHAPTER II 
A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

EARLY in the life of the Young Women's Christian 
Association in the United States some, at least, of the 
leaders saw their work in relation to the social scene of 
which they were a part. From the report of a conference 
of Associations in Philadelphia in 1873 comes the follow- 
ing statement: 

We are helping to solve the problem in social science, as 
to how to bridge the gulf that divides the favored from the 
less fortunate. There is a constant and somewhat close rela- 
tionship existing all the time between the members of these 
classes. ... It is no dilettante or sentimental philanthropy 
that will serve the purpose, but that "enthusiasm of hu- 
manity" born of the conviction of kinship and fundamental 
unity. In other words, we are to vitalize the teachings of 
our Lord, that "we are members one of another." 1 

A few years later this statement appears in a conference 
report: 

The study of sociological and industrial conditions of 
women has resulted in two conclusions: First, that the prob- 
lems relating to women are among the important questions 
of the day and must be considered and discussed. If the 
Christian women of the country disregard this obligation, the 
solution will be attempted; and if a work is organized which 
meets the social and intellectual needs, but neglects the 
18 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

spiritual, it makes it difficult and often impossible to intro- 
duce regular Association work. . . . 

The second conviction, which is also the result of the 
year's study, is that the environments are so different in the 
various fields, that there can be no stereotyped policy. 2 

Again in 1901 the importance of the Young Women's 
Christian Association in relation to the woman movement 
is emphasized: 

Among the great humanitarian movements must be 
counted the efforts which have resulted in the betterment of 
woman's condition. Properly speaking, this has been an 
evolution rather than a movement. A prominent factor in 
this process has been the work of the Young Women's 
Christian Association 5 and so important has this work be- 
come that it well deserves today to be dignified by the name 
of movement so important, indeed, that it would seem 
scarcely necessary, if we did not know to the contrary, to 
try to demonstrate its place in the community. 8 

All these quotations serve to stress the growing con- 
sciousness of the Association as a force for molding public 
opinion and for exerting an influence on the social situa- 
tion. In other words, the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation began early to shape its program according to 
immediate needs in each local situation and at the same 
time to consider the ways in which these environments 
should and could be changed. At all times the force back 
of these efforts, and the point of view, refer directly to the 
Christian principle of the worth of personality and the 
goal of an "abundant life" for all. Such a viewpoint is 
obviously much wider than any one program developed 
at a particular time and place. Simultaneously with these 

19 



History of a Social Institution 



Teachings out toward wider aims came the questioning of 
what the Association is as an organization, its uniqueness 
and its sense of destiny. Inevitably the accusation of vague- 
ness in objective has been attached, it would seem justly, 
to the general aims of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation, but much of this vagueness is inherent in an organi- 
zation that sees not the amelioration of this or that condi- 
tion as its reason-for-being, but rather its share in solving 
any or all the basic problems in the life of women and girls. 
In these early writings clear but logical thinking is not 
evident ; there is rather a constant use of generalizations 
and high-minded sentiments. 

In the first few years Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ations sprang up independently of each other, in eastern 
cities. It was quite natural that representatives of these 
organizations should want to get together and discuss their 
program and their common problems. The first such con- 
ference took place in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1871. 
Eight Associations were represented by delegates and thir- 
teen by letter. The report says, "Practical questions were 
discussed and the hearts of all present were strengthened 
to go forward." At the close of this meeting a resolution 
was offered and adopted that similar meetings be held at 
intervals of not more than two years. The second meeting 
was held in Philadelphia in 1873. At this meeting dele- 
gates from seventeen Associations were present and in all, 
thirty-six Associations reported. From that time on, this 
conference met regularly every two years in different sec- 
tions of the country. 

This provision for regular meetings to discuss common 
problems was embodied in a simple constitution and was 
all that this first national organization, called the Interna- 

20 



A Growing Movement i #71-1 90 6 

tional Board, undertook to do for some years. It made no 
attempt to promote organization in new places and little 
effort to standardize work already going on other than 
the natural standardization that came about through the 
interchange of methods and experiences. In spite of the 
lack of formal organization or an employed staff or a bud- 
get, the International Board had a real place in the devel- 
opment of the Association movement. One of the former 
members of that board still refers to it as a "rope of sand." 
It was, however, much more like a stream of running water 
vitally connecting the different Associations with one an- 
other and yet in no way restricting or hampering them. 

Meanwhile the Young Men's Christian Association was 
developing very rapidly in the United States, along more 
definite lines than the Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation and with more formal organization. In particular, 
the Young Men's Christian Association went into the col- 
leges and universities and organized work among students. 
It was natural, of course, that in the co-educational insti- 
tutions the girls as well as the boys should be interested. 
The early Young Women's Christian Associations had been 
definitely city institutions, growing out of the particular 
conditions that arose when girls came to cities to find work, 
and little thought had been given to student work. But in 
1873 the first student Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation was organized in Normal University, Normal, Illi- 
nois, and from then on student Associations have played 
a large part in developing the growing dynamic of this 
Christian fellowship. 

This first student Association was formed for the pur- 
pose of united Bible study, for prayer, and for "Christian 
conversation." The already organized Young Men's Chris- 
tian Association served as a goad to the girls, and though 

21 



History of a Social Institution 



their first organization was entirely separate, they took 
their form of both name and constitution from the men's 
group. Their meetings were held in the vestibule of the 
Congregational Church. Other student Associations gradu- 
ally came into being with little apparent connection with 
each other or outside stimulus. 

At its sixth conference, in 1881, the International 
Board received a representative of one of the student 
organizations and accepted her recommendation to pro- 
mote Young Women's Christian Association work in col- 
leges and seminaries. 

All these first student Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciations were in the middle section of the country and in 
co-educational institutions. It seems fair to assume that 
the presence on the same campus of a Young Men's Chris- 
tian Association which might or might not include women 
students in its fellowship was a primary incentive to the 
starting of a separate organization for women. Cooperation 
in work between the two organizations continued} joint 
meetings were held and women delegates were welcomed 
at the state conventions of the Young Men's Christian 
Association. 

These early student Associations were continuously in- 
fluenced by the Young Men's Christian Association. They 
were visited and advised by state Young Men's Christian 
Association secretaries and followed their plans of organi- 
zation into state groups. The so-called "membership 
basis" of the Young Men's Christian Association at that 
time was a restricted one, and the women student groups 
proposed to the International Board a basis for the entire 
work of that board, not only student but also city, which 

22 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

followed the Young Men's Christian Association plan. 
The basis as proposed was: 

That a permanent international organization of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations be formed, whose 
object shall be to promote the physical, social, mental and 
spiritual welfare of young women; whose membership shall 
consist of Young Women's Christian Associations whose 
active, i.e., voting and office-holding membership, shall be 
limited to young women who are members in good standing 
of an evangelical church. 4 

This proposal was made or supposed to be made to the 
eighth convention of the International Board in Cincin- 
nati in the autumn of 1885. Records are obscure at this 
point, but the recommendation was not presented, and to 
what extent it was discussed privately is uncertain. The 
adult adviser of the students was the wife of a Young 
Men's Christian Association secretary. She apparently 
wished to hold control of the student group in order to 
keep it in line with Young Men's Christian Association 
methods rather than to have it part of an organization of 
adult women with, for those days, liberal religious 
ideas. Some individuals concerned in the situation believe 
that, consciously or unconsciously, the true state of affairs 
was withheld from the students. In any case, the women 
students apparently believed that they had failed, and left 
the conference. The following year, 1886, this same group 
of student Young Women's Christian Associations, with 
some others, formed the International Committee of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations, later called the 
American Committee and including until 1901 a few Cana- 
dian Associations * as well as Associations in the United 

* "From 1873-1893 nine Canadian cities and ten Canadian schools and 
colleges had Associations affiliated with one or the other of the United 



History of a Social Institution 



States. This new national group had headquarters in Chi- 
cago. The International Board, much more informally 
organized, had its headquarters in the residence city o 
the president, usually a different one every two years but 
commonly in the east. 

In 1891 it was proposed that the division of work be 
schools and colleges for the American Committee and 
cities for the International Board. This plan was rejected, 
and the American Committee proposed amalgamation on 
its basis of organization. The International Board re- 
jected this proposal in the following statement: 

I. The proposed terms involve an entirely new organi- 
zation and compel the yielding of points which experience 
has taught are vital. 

Careful study of the needs of young women for over a 
quarter of a century has taught the older Christian Associ- 
ations that great diversity of means is necessary to attain the 
best results. 

The adoption of the limitations necessary to conform the 
work of the Young Women's Christian Associations to that 
of the Young Men's Associations would cause the curtail- 
ment in Young Women's Christian Associations of most 
efficient work in many directions, and with no commen- 
surate gain. 

Thus while the end desired by both is the same, the means 

States Young Women's ^ Christian Association organizations some with 
the International Committee, others with the committee afterward called 
the American Committee. The development of a Canadian National 
Association came between 1893 and 1901, and in the first year eight 
Associations endorsed the constitution, so that they could be incor- 
porated as a national entity in the World's Young Women's Christian 
Association. 

"The first real meeting of the Dominion Council was held in Ottawa, 
January 22, 1895." Association Chronicles, page 6 (World's Y.W.CA., 
London, 1926). 

24 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

by which it is attained must widely vary, or the highest 
good will be missed. 

2. The adoption of a constitution restricting the active 
membership of this board would simply mean its disruption. 
It cannot see the gain in union with a younger, less-experi- 
enced body if that union must result in the loss of the fellow- 
ship of many who have long been most earnest and sympa- 
thetic co-workers, whose labors have been visibly stamped 
with God's approval. 5 

Within this situation were many different elements of 
conflict the older against the younger, the religious lib- 
eral against the more restricted, the East against the 
Middle West, and the influence of the Young Men's 
Christian Association against a distinctly women's move- 
ment Apparently those were days when little was said if 
it meant disagreement, but interviews with members of the 
old International Board show that there still remains some 
feeling that there were, on the part of some of the older 
leaders of the American Committee, a lack of fair play 
and a concealment of aims which are still deplored as hav- 
ing led to the forming of two separate national organiza- 
tions that continued almost parallel work for twenty 
years, hampered by the inevitable misunderstandings and 
confusions of such a situation. 

In any case, student Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tions increased with considerable rapidity and in many 
types of institutions women's colleges, normal schools 
and professional schools, as well as in the co-educational 
denominational colleges and state universities. Their pro- 
grams continued to be deeply and evangelically religious. 
Small prayer circles in the residences and the period of 
private prayer commonly known as the "Morning Watch" 

25 



History of a Social Institution 



were emphasized. Missionary interests were from the be- 
ginning closely connected with the student Associations. 
This emphasis found its expression largely through co- 
operation with the Student Volunteer Movement organ- 
ized in 1886, and then later through sharing in the organi- 
zation, in 1895, of the World's Student Christian Federa- 
tion. 

Not only were these young, vigorous Associations inter- 
ested in developing national Young Women's Christian 
Association organization; they also began to look toward 
world organization. Their interest was not confined to 
work carried on in the Orient through church boards but 
included Association work in other countries, particularly 
England and France. With these latter countries the local 
Associations in the United States carried on some kind of 
correspondence and there were usually reports or letters 
from them at the biennial conventions. This interest in 
world organization culminated in 1894 in the forming of 
the World's Young Women's Christian Association, with 
headquarters in London. 

It is easy to see that in addition to the efforts that were 
going into the organizing of new Associations and the 
developing of new programs there was also a desire for an 
active fellowship of women on the widest possible basis. 
All this had its effect on the programs of local Associa- 
tions, both widening the members' interest as individuals 
in the lives of women of other lands and also stimulating 
them to greater effort in developing their own work. 

Meanwhile, in every meeting of the Associations and in 
many magazine articles, attempts were being made to de- 
fine more closely the work of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association. The following are typical statements: 
26 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

The chief cornerstone on which rests the foundation of 
Women's Christian Association work is the purpose to "help 
those who help themselves." One of the chief outgrowths of 
this purpose thus far is the establishment of safe, suitable and 
economical homes for girls who earn their own support. In 
making this statement we have by no means overlooked the 
great variety of good work done in various ways by our 
Associations at large, employment bureaus, libraries, indus- 
trial classes, etc. We speak merely of the one feature of 
work in which a large proportion are alike engaged. 6 

Its philanthropies are of the highest order, helping with- 
out pauperizing. It teaches charity by object lessons, and 
practically carrying beneath the lesson the substance itself, 
as it is translated in the Revised Version Love. All work 
done by women for women safely finds place under the 
broad and comprehensive term it uses "Women's Chris- 
tian Association." 7 

The Young Women's Christian Association is a power- 
ful means of grace and a perpetual source of happiness to 
every young woman who earnestly enters into its mission. 
It is a university for the development of noblest Christian 
womanhood. 8 

First, then, the true end and aim of Women's Christian 
Association work may be declared to be the uplifting of 
women. 

Second, it is for women in our country. . . . 

Thirdly, our work is, in all cases, for the women of the 
industrial classes. . . . 

Fourthly, our work being for women of the industrial 
classes, it has reached out to comprehend all their wants and 
all their possible circumstances; to provide for their bodies, 
their minds, their spiritual needs and their industrial neces- 
sities. 9 



History of a Social Institution 



Object The Y.W.C.A. seeks to awaken young women 
to a realization of their responsibility in Christian endeavor, 
and especially to their peculiar influence over other young 
women. Every young woman is her sister's keeper. 10 

The growth that most marks the progress of a Y.W.C.A. 
is the internal growth. That society makes genuine prog- 
ress when it awakens within the hearts of its members a 
sense of their duty to God, themselves and their fellow 
women, and spurs them on to right action and prompt per- 
formance of their duty. 11 

There can be but one mission for such an Association as 
ours, and that is to carry the gospel of our Lord to those who 
do not know Him, be they those whom society smiles upon 
or those upon whom she has turned her back. 12 

While these more general statements were constantly 
being made about the work and the objectives of the 
Young Women's Christian Association, the more detailed 
reports concerned themselves with the ways in which these 
high purposes were to be accomplished. These years saw a 
specialization in program and an attempt to meet the needs 
of widely different types of women and girls that went far 
in advance of the very informal efforts of the early days. 

The most outstanding work for many years, and indeed 
in the minds of many people the same thing is true today, 
was the providing of boarding homes or residences for 
self-supporting women. Such work is the obvious meeting 
of an obvious need and has done much to establish the 
Young Women's Christian Association in the minds of the 
average citizen as an organization which helps and protects 
girls. Many questions in regard to these boarding homes 
came up early in the life of the Association. In 1879, 
28 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

papers were presented at the conference discussing the 
question, "Should Boarding Homes Be Self -Sustaining?" 
The following quotation is from those papers: 

The independent principle God has implanted in the hu- 
man heart is no light thing to be tampered with, but a most 
precious flower, to be cultivated and nourished. It would ill 
become American women to blight and destroy the gift of 
the all- wise Creator; and to everything there is a beginning. 
Once degrade a young girl to a spirit of dependence, and 
you take her to the brink of a precipice. Foster and cultivate 
the spirit of doing everything for herself, and you help to 
make her a power that will be felt by those who come after 
her. As the aim in this branch of Association work is the 
"temporal, moral and spiritual welfare of women," every 
point must be carefully guarded and every side watched. 
. . . Only a short time since, twenty-eight young women 
were asked the question Shall the price of board be reduced 
to meet the lower rate of wages now prevailing? To make 
it easier for you shall we fix a price for board which will 
not fully cover the running expenses, and will oblige us to 
appeal to the public to make up the deficiency? A look at 
the faces of those addressed gave the answer without one 
spoken word, but the words were added, "We do not wish 
to be dependent, and much prefer that the price paid should 
cover the expense"; therefore, taking the testimony of those 
most interested, this question is answered in the negative, 
and the conclusion deduced that to follow out this work 
successfully in all its bearings, "boarding homes must be 
self-supporting." 

It may be urged that many are unable to pay even the 
low price asked for board, and yet are just the persons that 
should be helped and encouraged. At this point arises an- 
other question: Are not many unwise in the choice of occu- 
pation, and do they not need counsel and advice? Hundreds 

29 



History of a Social Institution 



of houses could be filled with a class of incompetent workers, 
or more properly* idlers, who would be little more than 
paupers; but would that be lifting up or helping them? No; 
help them to find work they can do, that they may not be 
dependent; but do not drag down to their level the indus- 
trious, capable girl who can pay for all she receives, and thus 
degrade the work itself. If there are, as there always will be, 
individual cases that need special help, let other means of 
assistance be devised, but let the Home be free from the 
appearance of public charity. 13 

It is interesting that in 1879 the principle of self-sup- 
porting residences was maintained so ably in the Associa- 
tion conferences, a principle that is still recognized and 
carefully guarded in the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation. In those days, however, as the quotations abun- 
dantly show, the point of reference for such a policy was 
the Christian principle of the worth of personality, while 
today the point of reference is an economic one related to a 
good business basis and the necessity for a minimum living 
wage. The value put upon this particular type of work is 
shown by the statement in the report of the Louisville 
Association in March, 1883 "It is believed that in the 
grand development of public institutions for which this 
century is noted, none more important than this network 
of boarding homes for young women has been conceived." 

In the Fourth Annual Report of the Commissioner of 
Labor of the United States, the work of the Young 
Women's Christian Association for working women in 
large cities is commended. It is the boarding home offering 
"protection" and the opportunity for "cooperative" living 
at a price within their means that attracted his attention. 
In speaking of the Young Women's Christian Association 
homes he said: 

30 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

These homes should not be regarded as "charities," for 
they are not such. They should be looked upon rather as 
cooperative enterprises, where the funds which the women 
would individually expend for a poor and insufficient living 
are, by combination and judicious management, rendered 
sufficient to give to all those advantages which without such 
combination would be beyond the reach of any. 14 

Next to the providing of a place to live, the immediate 
problem faced by the Association was that of training girls 
for remunerative employment outside their own homes. 
Sewing classes were organized in many Associations, par- 
ticularly those to teach women to use the sewing machine. 
Classes in domestic science were promoted, and when in 
the seventies the typewriter came into use, the Young 
Women's Christian Association organized with great trepi- 
dation classes in this new skill. There was hesitation in 
doing this because the women felt that the work of a typist 
might be too great a strain, both mentally and physically, 
on young women. 

In some cases this training for work developed into 
work rooms, where garments were made and either sold 
or given to the needy sick. 

Meanwhile, in other cities, programs were being devel- 
oped for little girls. A report from Oakland, California, 
in 1 88 1, makes the following statement: 

A "Juvenile Christian Association" was organized about 
a year ago, its object being to work for the poor children of 
Oakland. Already 72 garments have been distributed. . . , 15 

and at the International Conference in St. Louis in 1881 
a paper was given on "Work Among Young Girls" which 



History of a Social Institution 



emphasized the need for developing Association work 
among younger girls of all classes. The report states the 
fears of the women as follows: 

While Christian women have been absorbed in the multi- 
tudinous good work open to them on every side, there has 
latterly appeared a need and a danger which may well fill 
the hearts of the thoughtful with dread. It is one found in 
all parts of the land, though from the nature of the case 
most apparent in the great cities. I refer to the growing 
frivolity and tendency to dissipation among young girls. It 
would be almost impossible to go out upon a public thorough- 
fare, or into a park during the earlier hours of night, with- 
out encountering scores of young misses, mostly in groups of 
three or four, sauntering along, talking and laughing loudly, 
carrying on flirtations with young men, whom, many times, 
they have never before seen, exposing themselves to the most 
dreadful dangers that can beset a young girl's pathway with 
the heedlessness of a moth dallying with the fire sure to con- 
sume it* ... 

Nor are the girls to be found in the streets by any means 
exclusively of the lower classes; from families of wealth and 
position, from the avenue quite as frequently as from the 
alley, come the troops of giddy beings whose welfare has 
become one of the most serious and perplexing questions of 
the hour. 16 

The type of program developed was not very different 
from that of the older girls simple sorts of amusements, 
"literary and art studies/ 7 and the opportunity to be a part 
of an organization always appealing to girls of that age. 
Several times the work is referred to as bearing a relation 
to the Association that a Sunday school does to the church. 
In some cases it was called junior work. 

3* 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

In the nineties the Associations began to make efforts to 
get in touch with business girls who did not naturally 
come to the Association. In the early days the problem 
of recruiting had hardly existed. The Association devel- 
oped a boarding home with a program, and the need was 
so great and so immediate that the girls and women who 
wanted this naturally came to it, though in small numbers. 
As the years went on, the possibilities for serving women 
and girls in much larger numbers were seen, and efforts 
were made to acquaint them with the Association and to 
attract them to it. One report in 1893, from Kansas City, 
notes the giving of four teas, at one of which stenogra- 
phers were entertained $ at another, bookkeepers and 
typists ; at a third, telegraph and telephone girls $ and at 
one, girls from business college. 

Only rarely in the records is there any direct indication 
of the attitude of girls toward the program. In 1893 a 
business girl spoke to the annual convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of Nebraska on "The 
Young Women's Christian Association from My Point of 
View." During this speech she said: 

We believe the Y.W.C.A. accomplishes its purposes for 
the reason that it places young women in a position to help 
themselves, and to help each other. 

Truly, "it is a hard world for girls/' and shall we with- 
hold any good thing that may make it easier? 1T 

At the same time effort was made to extend the Asso- 
ciation into smaller communities. The first county Associa- 
tion was organized in Fillmore County, Minnesota, in 
1898, following a meeting of Bible Circles which had been 
organized by a former student Association leader. 

It was in the early nineties also that the first Young 

33 



History of a Social Institution 



Women's Christian Association among American Indian 
girls was organized at Haworth Institute, Indian Terri- 
tory, now the Chilocco Indian School, Chilocco, Okla- 
homa. This was the first generation of Indian girls to be 
placed in reservation and non-reservation government 
boarding schools. The records say: 

The girls were very proud of their Y.W.C.A. and felt 
that they must live very carefully and truly. They had almost 
no church privileges and the Association was a church to 
them. For two summers two of our Topeka Y.W.C.A. girls 
went down into Indian Territory and with missionary zeal 
endured hardness that they might bring the light to Indian 
women and girls near the agency. We especially wanted to 
help girls who returned to their tepee homes from govern- 
ment schools. 18 

The first organization for Indian girls was quickly fol- 
lowed by others. The purposes and objectives were no dif- 
ferent from those in other Young Women's Christian 
Associations. Sunday afternoon prayer services and Bible 
study meetings were a major part of the program. The 
situation was, however, a different one. The almost mili- 
tary system in the government schools at that time and 
the inexperience of the girls in new surroundings, as well 
as their lack of knowledge of the English language and 
the white man's culture, made necessary from the begin- 
ning careful work on personal adjustments and help and 
understanding in adapting to new conditions. 

With the developing of a widely varied program it be- 
came necessary for the Associations to give attention to 
methods of organization and administration. As early as 
1876 a question was written to the magazine, Fwth and 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

Works: "Will someone kindly tell us what is the best way 
to set about organizing a Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation in a town or city where none exists?" The answer 
to this question was, that those interested should get the 
advice and help of already organized Associations, particu- 
larly their form of constitution, then select a committee 
of from five to nine earnest, intelligent, Christian women 
from the different denominations represented in the town. 
Suggestions about parliamentary rules follow. 

In 1879 the Boston Association reported that it had 
found it necessary, in order to carry on its work, to divide 
its board into several committees. The committees that 
they list are: housing committee, an employment commit- 
tee, a reception committee, a devotional committee and a 
committee on social intercourse and entertainments. In 
1881, the principle of committee work having been well 
established, some of its dangers were evidently beginning 
to be felt. The following quotation from the report of the 
New York City Association is of interest here: 

There is one great danger in committee work that must 
be guarded against. It is that of a too limited interest in their 
own work to the exclusion of a proper interest in that of 
other committees. Members ought to feel it both a duty and 
a privilege to attend the meetings where they can keep them- 
selves properly informed of all the interests of their Asso- 
ciation, both for their own sake and in order to properly 
present the work when it is spoken of by others. 19 

The following statement as to the method of committee 
work is made in the same report: 

They make their own rules and regulations and devise 
their own ways and means of work, but all important deci- 

35 



History of a Social Institution 



sions must be referred by their chairmen to the executive 
committee for approval; they elect their own officers (ex- 
cept their chairmen, who are appointed by the executive). 
A very important rule is that no committee can incur any 
pecuniary obligation without a definite appropriation from 
the executive. Absence from the work and meetings of the 
committees for two months, without presentation of reason- 
able excuse to the chairman, is considered as a resignation, 
and the member is notified accordingly. 

At that time it was customary for the board of directors 
to meet every week and to have an open meeting of the 
members of the Association once a month to hear reports 
of the separate departments. By 1891 we find all the nor- 
mal problems of administration appearing and being dis- 
cussed in the periodicals the relation of staff and board, 
the organization responsibility of committees, the ways of 
conducting meetings, the best forms of constitutions, and 
similar topics. Evidently the monthly board meeting had 
become customary by 1893, and words of warning are 
given about the necessity of a fixed time, so that all mem- 
bers of the board may be free from engagements and 
can be expected to attend. 

A major problem in the Association in the early years 
was, of course, the raising of funds. At first the budgets 
were small. The residences or boarding homes were self- 
supporting or nearly so. The employed staff was few in 
number and low salaried. The Philadelphia Association in 
1878, desiring to raise money for the furnishing of a 
summer cottage at Asbury Park, appointed twelve com- 
mittees for this purpose, each one to raise one hundred 
dollars. In 1879 ^e possibility of asking the churches to 
support the Association either through an annual collection 

36 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

or through a canvass of the church membership was sug- 
gested. 

As the years went on, experience taught these women 
much. In 1891 an article on financing urges good business 
methods, a carefully made budget, solicitation beginning 
with the membership, and careful records. In 1901 the 
Evangel again emphasizes the responsibility of the lay 
members for raising the budget, and underlines the sen- 
tence, "Never should the burden of finances rest upon the 
general secretary" In 1904 the usual sources of income in 
any local Association were divided as follows: "First, and 
peculiar to all, is the membership fee 3 the next, though 
not always so, the lunch department ; and last, but by no 
means the least, is the subscription list." Emphasis is 
placed on solicitation in person rather than by letter, and 
the following advice appears in the report of the fourth 
annual conference of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciations of the State of New York in 1891: 

Go to people whose hearts are in sympathy with the 
work; people with warm hearts and willing hands; who do 
and give for the cause of Christ in every other direction. 
I think you will find that when Christian people are con- 
vinced where service is to be rendered and an equivalent is to 
be obtained for the money put into it, they are always ready 
to give. I believe money can always be raised for Christ's 
sake; for any cause with true merit, true worth in it; and 
we are almost certain of achieving the result aimed for if we 
go in this spirit to the people whose sympathies are in every 
good work, and present our cause. 20 

In 1895 the following statement appears in the Evangel: 

First, that all educational work, including the gymnasium, 
the employment bureau, the noon rest and the boarding de- 

37 



History of a Social Institution 



partment, should be made self-supporting; at least this is the 
end to be worked for. . . . 

In calling upon possible contributors, be able to present 
the Association work strongly, clearly and concisely. If it 
is a new organization, present needs, ideals and plans; if one 
with a past, have the facts of the past year's work ready to 
present strongly at a moment's notice, and if necessary, in a 
very few minutes' time. If for any reason your Association 
has not a good record to present, acknowledge misfortunes, 
mistakes or failures, but be able to present good plans for 
better work in the future. . . . 

Finance committees would not find this work so difficult 
and would reap greater blessings if they made it a subject 
of more prayer and of less worry. 21 

Certainly this whole question of finance was a perplex- 
ing one and was dealt with in many ways, constructive 
and unconstructive. The main principles that seem to show 
over the years are: First, that the Association expected to 
be in part supported by income from educational classes, 
from food service and from boarding homes. This is of 
course the case today in those places where an institutional 
program is provided. In addition to this source of income 
it was expected that annual subscriptions would be received 
from those members of the community who were inter- 
ested in supporting a definitely Christian work. 

As early as 1877 the Association showed an interest in 
foreign women in this country. Articles on the problems of 
immigrants and their difficulties of adjustment began ap- 
pearing in the magazine called Faith and Works in that 
year, though there is no evidence that immigrant girls 
were served by the Associations until some years later. 
In January 1892 the following statement in regard to 
38 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

classes in English for the foreign-born appears in the 
Evangel; 

There is no way in which the Young Women's Christian 
Association may gain a stronger, surer hold upon the foreign- 
speaking girls in our cities than by the establishment of such 
classes as will enable them to gratify their ambition along 
this line. And in the formation of such classes the perse- 
verance and tact desirable elsewhere in the work will all be 
needed. 22 

It was not, however, until after the report of the National 
Board to the national convention in 1913, that a body of 
principles for the promotion of work with the foreign- 
born was adopted. 

As the responsibility of the Association took shape in 
the minds of its leadership and conviction grew as to its 
value and opportunity, the thinking of the leaders and 
the growing work expanded in two directions. The first is 
seen in the effort to extend the benefits of the Association 
to all women and girls in all types of communities, and the 
second in the increasing variety and richness offered in the 
program. An early decision of one group of leaders was 
that work was "formative not reformative." They did not 
use the term "character building" but that was evidently 
the idea in their minds. 

In developing a useful and varied program the Asso- 
ciation was forced to face the fact that the young women 
coming to it for help in finding jobs were almost to- 
tally untrained and with very little education. Moreover, 
many of them were undernourished and ill-equipped phys- 
ically to stand the strain of long hours of work in office 
or shop. 

39 



History of a Social Institution 



To meet in some degree that latter need, a class in calis- 
thenics was organized in the Boston Association in 18773 
later, athletics were started in the park, and by 1884, 
when the Berkeley Street residence was built, this program 
had assumed such proportions that a gymnasium, the first 
Young Women's Christian Association gymnasium in the 
country, was included in the building. It is certain that in 
these early years, in one way or another, strenuous ath- 
letics "Delsarte," "Swedish gymnastics," and whatever 
other form of physical exercise was in vogue found their 
way into Association programs in the effort to strengthen 
and re-create young women. It was not until well into the 
twentieth century that these varied activities crystallized 
into a comprehensive program of "positive health." 

In the field of education the early Association attempted 
to meet three distinct needs. The first was for religious 
education that was Christian but not denominational, the 
second for vocational training, and the third, in the absence 
of night schools and extension courses, the desire for gen- 
eral education. 

Probably no one service of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association in those days was more thoroughly appre- 
ciated than this training for self-support. An important 
part of this training was for office work: 

As early as 1868 bookkeeping was taught in connection 
with penmanship. The Civil War had called women into 
offices and clerical training was in demand. In 1874 Phila- 
delphia introduced telegraphy. In 1 8 80 New York City 
made a success of a class in phonography, the practice of 
which in connection with typewriting was said to be the 
"most remunerative for their sex"; later on, typewriting 
alone was advertised, with the explanation that "some firms 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

prefer typewriting to penmanship." In 1880 retouching 
photograph negatives was taught and a class of eight com- 
petent women graduated; then photo coloring, crayons, and 
India ink drawing, and in 1884 technical design and free 
hand enlarging." 4 

As has been noted, much of the early training was in 
sewing, particularly in the use of the sewing machine. 
In 1888 Boston opened a school of domestic economy, with 
instruction in cooking, general household management, 
purchase and care of family supplies, dressmaking and 
millinery. Later on, courses in practical nursing and the 
care of children were popular. 

To meet the demand for general education, classes in all 
kinds of cultural subjects as well as in regular high school 
subjects were started. In some of the larger cities this work 
developed into elaborate schools with varied and stimulat- 
ing curricula. This training was so popular that in many 
cities night-school work in the public schools was the direct 
outcome of the interest aroused through the Association. 

These first years saw also attempts to develop the re- 
ligious program of the organization. This was an effort to 
demonstrate a way of life based on the principles of the 
teaching of Jesus, and thus make real in the lives of girls 
ideas and ideals which they had known only as theories. 
There was much groping after methods of expression: 
prayer meetings were held, vesper services, noon meetings 
in the factories all accompanied by direct personal service. 
The more definitely religious meetings, and the other 
activities of the Association as well, were considered sup- 
plementary to the work of the churches, and the girls in 
the Bible classes at the Association were the same ones 
to be found in the Sunday schools. 



History of a Social Institution 



The following summary o the activities of the Asso- 
ciations affiliated with the American Committee in the year 
1893 gives an idea of the scope of the whole as well as of 
the variety in program and the emphasis on various types 
of religious work: 

Some interesting figures appear in the statistics published 
in the Young Women's Christian Association Year Book 
for 1893. The whole membership reported is 19,723. Of 
this, 10,067 are in the 52 city Associations; 9,656 is the 
college membership. Of the whole number, 16,633 are 
active members. Many Associations do not wish to report 
conversions; however, the number of 1,103 can be recorded 
(there were 924 in the report of the previous year) ; of this 
number 310 are in cities; 126 here have joined churches, 
many of those professing conversion already being members 
of churches. There are 3 1 7 Bible classes and workers' train- 
ing classes in the 307 Associations; 42 daily prayer meetings. 

In the city Associations 47 report rooms as against 31 last 
year. Running expenses, $42,967.25, furnishings to the 
value of $22,491, and libraries valued at $3,143, show that 
the business side of the Association was not neglected. Nine 
report gymnasiums, the others carrying on their physical cul- 
ture classes in rooms used for other purposes. In the Asso- 
ciation rooms there have been 430 social gatherings, 344 
lectures, 151 educational classes. 

Twenty Associations have recorded 1,108 situations se- 
cured for young women. 

Thirty-three college Associations have rooms for their 
use; 3 have buildings erected for them conjointly with the 
Young Men's Christian Associations; 23 have Association 
libraries. 

In the past year 360 receptions have been held; 342 col- 
lege women intend to be foreign missionaries. 28 

42 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

At the same time the Association leadership was feeling 
out toward the point of view that all service and all pro- 
gram in the Association can have religious values, another 
example of the Young Women's Christian Association's 
growing appreciation of its responsibility in the field of 
character development definitely Christian in its philoso- 
phy. In 1893 a local Association report lists a variety of 
services, including the following: 

Meeting girls at the wharves who arrive as strangers on 
our shores and ministering to their bodily and spiritual needs. 

Aiding ambitious girls to an education, with the hope that 
their talents will be consecrated to God's service. 

Placing the unskilled under religious influences while 
being trained in some branch of industry. . . . 

and ends with the statement: 

By the above means the Association 

is permeated with general religious instruction. 24 

During this period when the Association was both 
broadening and deepening its program it was becoming 
conscious of the need for combining in its philosophy and 
work both unity and diversity. 

The word "industrial" was used very early in Associa- 
tion history. A report of the New York City Association 
for 1878 speaks of the "industrial committee." It is evi- 
dent, however, that in those days the work was that of 
training women to earn their living through industry 
rather than the conscious effort of later years to develop 
the leadership of women in industry. Of course, teaching 
women to sew on the sewing machine or to become skillful 
in other factory processes did mean that women in industry 

43 



History of a Social Institution 



knew the Young Women's Christian Association, and used 
its other resources. The emphasis, however, was on helping 
them to find their place in a world which offered new 
economic opportunities to women at a time when there 
was little or no social differentiation between workers in 
industry and those in business or in teaching. It was only 
with the development of the factory system on a wide 
scale and the coming of large numbers of women and girls 
from other countries to take their place in the industrial 
ranks of America that the Association gradually became 
conscious of a group having interests and problems of its 
own. 

By 1900 the Young Women's Christian Association had 
become aware that though there were a large number of 
Associations in factory towns or cities, few of them were 
reaching the young women working in those factories in 
any numbers. One of the reports at that time says, "Young 
women who are employed in factories are just like other 
young women," and upon that idea the Association began 
what was called extension work. It was an attempt to carry 
the Young Women's Christian Association into the section 
of the city where the factories were, in some places intro- 
ducing classes, gospel meetings and lunch rooms in the 
factories themselves. It is interesting that in the annual 
report for 1903 of the American Committee the following 
statement is made: 

Only after the Association was established in cities and 
had shown the community that it is a fourfold work for all 
young women could It safely have taken up a phase of work 
for one company of young women, focusing thought and 
attention upon them without overreaching and overtopping 
other departments. 25 

Al 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

This statement is given as an explanation of why there 
had not been earlier emphasis on service to industrial 
women. 

By 1892 the Associations were beginning to give 
thought to maintaining standards in their work and to 
improving their methods. A report of the state conference 
of the Associations of New York, in 1892, gives a list of 
precepts for local Associations, including: 

That in all the class work, the very best teachers should 
be employed and always Christians. 

That it was best to employ one of our own sex in the 
gymnasium. 

That the social life of the Association should be educat- 
ing as well as entertaining. 

That we should not allow old books which would never 
be read to be placed on the library shelves. Make a bonfire 
of them so that they need not be in the way at housecleaning 
time. 

By June 1898 these precepts were becoming principles. 
The following statement appears in the Evangel of that 
month: 

In order to accomplish the work outlined by the conven- 
tion of 1897, to avoid the dangers which we are unquestion- 
ably facing, and to make the Young Women's Christian 
Association take the place which is now open for it, there 
are a few duties which every city worker should keep in 
mind: 

1. To study the sociological and industrial conditions 
of women and to apply Christian principles in solving the 
problems. 

2. To introduce practical courses of study so that domes- 

45 



History of a Social Institution 



tic service may be dignified and higher ideals of home life 
created. 

3. To emphasize Bible study with a desire to aid in sup- 
plying the demand for Sunday-school teachers; also to assist 
in making Sunday-school teaching "reach the same standard 
as our day-school instruction." 26 

In September 1900 the following statement about the 
fundamental principles of the Association appears: 

The talk on Fundamental Principles claimed that a 
Young Women's Christian Association is a distinct institu- 
tion established for distinct purposes, that it exists to benefit 
all young women of a community and is maintained by the 
same young women that receive benefit from it. That its 
legitimate work is religious development, education, both 
literary and practical, social life and culture, physical train- 
ing and the business advancement of its members. That the 
union with the evangelical churches is required in order to 
bring this about, hence the well-known basis of member- 
ship. 27 

In 1901 comes the following statement: 

We must not cater to any one particular class but to the 
greatest number of young women. The middle-class young 
women are now largely interested in the Association. The 
extremes need to be touched. In factory openings try to 
establish cordial relations between employers and em- 
ployees. 28 

A certain clarity of method as well as of objective was 
becoming evident. At the turn of the century, among the 
leaders of the two national movements there was a grow- 
ing recognition of the necessity of concentrating the work 
of the Association on young women and the development 
of programs of continuing interest and educational value. 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

In spite of this growing conception of the Association, the 
institutional features, particularly in the larger cities, 
changed slowly, and such work as homes for the aged, 
flower missions and other distinctly welfare activities were 
prolonged well into the twentieth century. 

The two national organizations, the International Board 
and the American Committee, continued to have somewhat 
different emphases in their objectives and in their pro- 
grams. The American Committee included a large number 
of student as well as city Associations and was concerned 
to build unity of religious interest by limiting membership 
to those Associations using an evangelical basis, a phrase 
which at that time was interpreted to mean membership 
in a Protestant evangelical church. Undoubtedly it was 
these factors of youth and youthful eagerness to tell the 
"good news," as well as the general interest of church 
people in "missions," which influenced the American Com- 
mittee, soon after it was formed, to extend the Young 
Women's Christian Association to other lands. 

The International Board was less concerned about the 
actual constitutional basis of the Associations which it com- 
bined; rather, it relied upon unity in facing the needs of 
young women, and unity of effort in attempting to meet 
them, to produce the oneness of spirit necessary to its con- 
tinuity. Since it included in its membership most of the 
large industrial cities of the east and middle west, it is not 
surprising that the program of this group placed strong 
emphasis on service, particularly on travelers 5 aid work. 

The story of the slow coming together of these two 
groups into one strong national organization is a long one. 
As is often the case, the stimuli toward union were both 
immediate specific issues and deep conviction as to the 

47 



History of a Social Institution 



value of unity. Local communities were confused and 
baffled by the existence of two national organizations, with 
local affiliations, that were so alike in many ways, including 
the name, and so different at other points. At the same 
time, far-sighted leaders were glimpsing the possibilities 
that might be realized by one organization of women 
united on a Christian basis and committed to the attempt 
to make possible "the abundant life" for women and girls 
everywhere. After much preliminary consultation, the con- 
ference of the International Board in November 1905, 
at Baltimore, and the convention of the American Com- 
mittee in Chicago in January 1906, voted to make the 
attempt to unite the two existing national movements. 

A joint committee of fifteen representatives of the two 
organizations, under the chairmanship of Grace H. Dodge 
of New York, was organized. This committee prepared 
material and exhibits which were sent out to local Asso- 
ciations in order that there should be general understand- 
ing of the nature, the privileges and the obligations which 
would be assumed by the new body. This meeting was 
called for December 5 and 6, 1906, in New York City, 
and was the first joint gathering of the two national or- 
ganizations which had separately voted for union. The 
local Associations had been asked to make application for 
charter membership previous to the convening of the con- 
vention, and interest in the new organization was so great 
and belief in its possibilities so firm that at the beginning 
of the convention there were 147 city and 469 student 
Associations that had applied for membership. This list 
included all but three of the city Associations of the Amer- 
ican Committee and most of their student Associations and 
almost all the Associations affiliated with the International 
Board which carried on an all-round program. 

48 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

At this first convention, 392 delegates from 132 differ- 
ent Associations received the final report of the joint com- 
mittee and started the new movement. Miss Dodge was 
elected president of the convention at its first session. 

The new organization was called the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America, 
and its object was stated as follows: 

The purpose of this organization shall be to unite in one 
body the Young Women's Christian Associations of the 
United States; to establish, develop and unify such Associ- 
ations; to advance the physical, social, intellectual, moral 
and spiritual interests of young women; to participate in the 
work of the World's Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation. 29 

A National Board of thirty members was elected as the 
executive body of the organization, to carry on its work 
between conventions, and was incorporated under the laws 
of the State of New York on June 7, 1907. Miss Dodge 
was elected president at the first meeting of the National 
Board immediately following the convention. During the 
next months details of organization were worked out, a 
staff was called, and offices were opened in New York 
City. 

This new unity in Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion work marked both the beginning and the end of im- 
portant eras in its history in the United States. 

SOURCES 

1 Opening Address, Proceedings of the Second National 
Conference of Women's Christian Associations of the United 
States (Philadelphia, 1873), pp. 5-9. 

49 



History of a Social Institution 



2 Report of the Seventh Biennial Convention of the Inter- 
national Association of Young Women's Christian Associations 
(Milwaukee, 1899), Evangel, XI (July and August, 1899), 
p. 9. 

3 Goodwin, Mrs. C. H. "The Place of the Women's Chris- 
tian Association in the Community," International Messenger, 
VIII (September, 1901), pp. 92-93. 

4 Wilson, Elizabeth. Fifty Years of Association Work 
Among Young Women (New York: National Board of the 
Y.W.C.A., 1916), p. 91. 

5 Lamson, M. S. "Why Are There Two International Or- 
ganizations for Women's Christian Association Work?" In- 
ternational Messenger, I (June, 1894), pp. 25-27. 

6 Faith and Works, III (April, 1878), editorial, p. 118. 

7 Author unknown. "The Name and the Work," Interna- 
tional Messenger, I (April, 1894), p. I. 

8 Spaulding, Rev. G. B. "Does the Y.W.C.A. Meet the 
Needs of Young Women? " Proceedings of the Fourth Annual 
State Convention of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tions of the State of New York (1891), pp. 12-15. 

9 Ingham, Mrs. S. N. "What Is the True End and Aim of 
Women's Christian Association Work?" Journal of the Sev- 
enth International Conference of Women's Christian Associ- 
ations of the United States and the British Provinces (Boston, 
1 883), pp. 20-29. 

10 Report of the Fourth Annual Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of Ohio (1887), p. I 5 t 

11 Rohrbaugh, Lillie M. "What Constitutes a Progressive 
Y.W.C.A.?" Report of Fifth Annual Convention of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations of Ohio (1888), pp. 
25-26. 

12 Sherman, Jennie. "The Specific Mission of the Y.W. 
C.A.," Report of the Second National Convention of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations of the United States 
and Canada ( Bloomington, 111., 1889), pp. 61-65. 

50 



A Growing Movement 1871-1906 

13 Harley, Mrs. Jacob. "Should Boarding Homes Be Self- 
Supporting?" Journal of the Fifth International Conference of 
Women's Christian Associations (Cleveland, 1879), pp. 1 8" 

19- 

14 "Estimates Put on the Work by the Labor Commissioner 

of the U, S.," International Messenger y I (June, 1894), pp. 

34-35- 

15 Faith and, Works, VII (October, 1881), p. 27. 
16 Ingham, Mrs. H. M. "Work Among Young Girls," 

Journal of the Sixth International Conference of Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States and the British 
Provinces (St. Louis, 1881), pp. 36-41. 

"Walker, Laura. "The Y.W.C.A. from My Point of 
View: as a Business Girl," Proceedings of the Seventh Annual 
Convention of Young Women's Christian Associations of Ne- 
braska (1893), pp. 29-32. 

18 Unpublished manuscript prepared by the Department of 
Indian Work of the National Board. 

19 Hills, S. B. "New York Letter," Faith and Works, VII 
(September, 1881), pp. 9-10. 

20 Platt, Edmund P. "Conversation on Local and State Fi- 
nances," Proceedings of the Fourth Annual State Convention 
of the Young Women*s Christian Associations of New York 
(1891), pp. 6-9. 

21 Author unknown. "Some Facts About Association Rev- 
enue," Evangel) IX (January, 1895), pp. 12-14. 

22 Author unknown. "English Classes for Foreign-Speaking 
Girls," Evangel, IV (January, 1892), pp. 15-16. 

23 Evangel, VI (September, 1893), p. 3. 

24 Hendee, Elizabeth Russell. The Growth and Develop- 
ment of the Young Women's Christian Association (New 
York: The Womans Press, 1930). 

25 Barnes, Helen F. "Report of Extension Work for 1901- 
1903," Seventeenth Annual Report of the American Commit- 
tee (1903), pp. 15-21. 

51 



History of a Social Institution 



26 Taylor, Harriet. "City Department," Evangel, X (June, 
1898), pp. 5-7. 

27 Author unknown. "Secretarial Institute," Evangel, XII 
(September, 1900), pp. 24-25. 

28 Report of the Eighth Biennial Convention of the Amer- 
ican Association of Young Women's Christian Associations 
(Nashville, 1901), Evangel, XIII (June- July, 1901), p. 1 8. 

29 Report of the First Biennial Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (New York City, 1906), p. 13. 



CHAPTER III 

Recent Years 1906-1934 

WITH the establishment of the new national organiza- 
tion and its continued development, the Young 
Women's Christian Association in the United States can 
be clearly identified as an institution in the terms used by 
William G. Summer: 

An institution consists of a concept (idea, notion, doctrine, 
interest) and a structure. The structure is a framework, or 
apparatus, or perhaps only a number of functionaries set to 
cooperate in prescribed ways at a certain juncture. The 
structure holds the concept and furnishes instrumentality for 
bringing it into the world of facts and action in a way to 
serve the interests of men in society. 1 

Closely conditioned in its growth both by the obvious 
needs of women and girls seeking a livelihood outside 
their own homes and by the development of other social 
agencies devoted to specialized tasks, the Young Women's 
Christian Association was definitely the product of the in- 
tention to promote Christian ideals of life in the individual 
and in the community. Only very gradually did it build up 
both a philosophy and a series of concepts which have 
helped to give definiteness and form to this general pur- 
pose. 

The relation of the continuing idea or concept of an 
institution to its developing framework and the values 

53 



History of a Social Institution 



given to each in the making of decisions seem to determine 
the degree of flexibility possible in changing programs. 

The new national organization was a bringing together 
of the two main tendencies in Young Women's Christian 
Associations in this country the more institutionalized 
service but devoutly Christian attitude of the International 
Board, and the strong fellowship and fervently evangeli- 
cal tendency of the American Committee. 

Opposing as these two tendencies may in some ways 
have seemed, both at that time and in later years, never- 
theless they were really complementary, and much of the 
vitality and power of the present national movement can 
be traced to their interaction. 

The newly elected National Board faced heavy and 
immediate problems. Unlike many national agencies whose 
organization has preceded the forming of local branches, 
this new national body found itself composed of 608 affili- 
ated Associations with a membership of 186,330 women 
and girls. Of these Associations, 469 were in student cen- 
ters with a membership of 41,688. In addition, the new 
organization took over the responsibility of the American 
Committee for the work of eleven secretaries in four other 
countries China, India, Argentina and Japan. 

Even though the first decade of this present century 
was half over, it was still unusual for women to assume 
heavy organizational responsibilities. Their ability to raise 
money and administer budgets was still questioned, by the 
women themselves as well as by men. Moreover, national 
and world organizations were far less common than twenty 
years later. 

The emphasis of these early years of the now united 
national movements might be characterized as stabiliza- 

54 



Recent 'Years 



tion, much of it in terms of organization and material 
equipment. 

From the earliest years the leadership of the Young 
Women's Christian Association, both lay and employed, 
was committed to the belief that dynamic. In terms of 
spiritual power, and structure that is, organization were 
both essential. Careful plans were now made for training 
secretaries, building on the past experience of the Ameri- 
can Committee in Chicago, which for some years had been 
recruiting and training its secretaries. Women were still 
self-conscious about a college education. Such training for 
life and work was only beginning to be accepted, and the 
number of women who had had this opportunity were few. 
Training for social work of any kind was even more at its 
beginnings, and the newly organized Young Women's 
Christian Association training school faced all the difficul- 
ties of any pioneering professional school. The question of 
standards for admission was puzzling. There was, hesitancy 
to declare frankly the requirement of a bachelor's degree 
for entering the professional group, and the phrase "or its 
equivalent" was frequently used to qualify this require- 
ment. There was the next question of an essential curricu- 
lum, and the problem of identifying Association tech- 
niques as well as planning for their teaching. To make and 
to begin to carry out such plans was hard, slow work. 

Next to emphasis on the development of the trained 
professional secretary it appears that no one factor helped 
more to stabilize the movement as a whole than did the 
erection of Young Women's Christian Association build- 
ings in all the larger cities and many of the smaller ones 
of this country. Association buildings date back much 
earlier, but it was not until after the organization of the 
present national movement that there was a widespread 

55 



History of a Social Institution 



idea that in any city of appreciable size the Young 
Women's Christian Association should have its own build- 
ing and, if possible, a building erected for its particular 
purposes. 

This main or central, as it is frequently called Asso- 
ciation building is usually for administrative purposes and 
general activities, providing for a great middle-class group 
of women and girls facilities similar to those of a woman's 
club and often serving at the same time as a headquarters 
for many women's groups and interests. Some Associations 
combine housing and these other facilities in one building; 
others have separate buildings. 

Even in those years of enthusiastic acquisition of prop- 
erty and it was exciting, for women's groups in the past 
had had little opportunity to feel the thrill of ownership 
there was recognition of the danger of confusing this out- 
ward expression of the Association with its essential reality 
in terms of membership. Statements such as "the member- 
ship is the Association" were in constant use, and warnings 
of the possibility of too great sacrifices, in terms of energy 
or even in terms of freedom of speech and action, for the 
sake of buildings were frequently heard. In the smaller 
communities cities and towns as well as rural districts 
the development of program irrespective of equipment 
was constantly stressed, together with the differentiation 
at this point between larger and smaller places. 

From the development of its staff and the actions of 
early conventions it is apparent that the new national 
organization accepted as one of its primary functions the 
building up of Association methods and techniques to the 
end that a true cross-section of the girl and woman life of 
the whole country might find satisfactory place in the 

56 



Recent Years 190*5-1934 



Young Women's Christian Association movement. Women 
with experience and understanding of rural life, of the 
background of women and girls in industry, of the for- 
eign-born and foreign-speaking, and with skill and origi- 
nality in developing programs for such groups, were early 
added to the national staff, in addition to staff members 
responsible for work with students and younger girls, and 
for various subjects such as health, general and religious 
education. 

This early emphasis on types of program not yet recog- 
nized by local Associations as within their sphere of 
activity was made possible by the fact that the burden of 
support of the new national organization was borne for 
nearly ten years by one individual, with only meager aid 
from the member Associations. The number of other in- 
dividuals contributing, particularly to the foreign work, 
was, however, steadily increasing. 

It will be remembered that the first Associations in this 
country were organized in cities. That then, only a few 
years afterward, the movement spread to student centers. 
It was some time before there was an even partially satis- 
factory development of the Association idea in smaller 
communities. Associations were organized from time to 
time in rural districts but usually with the characteristics 
of city or student work. Probably one of the most inter- 
esting forerunners of the present rural work of the Young 
Women's Christian Association came through the Eight- 
Week Club plan, by which college girls going home for 
the summer vacation organized summer clubs of girls in 
their communities. The programs of these clubs endeav- 
ored to combine recreation and educational features, often 
of a religious nature. 

At the national convention in 1915 the krge-town unit 

57 



History of a Social Institution 



of affiliation was recognized, roughly determined as a 
community with a population of between 5,000 and 15,- 
ooo. This action was taken in the well-grounded belief 
that not until attention was focused on this type of com- 
munity would there develop the kind of Association move- 
ment which could successfully be administered in such 
communities. 

Thus at the completion of ten years of work the na- 
tional organization found itself with some fairly satisfac- 
tory method of approach to nearly all the different kinds 
of groups of women and girls in this country, and with 
plans for further work which, though largely in their 
beginnings, nevertheless showed promise of success* The 
two outstanding problems for which no constructive solu- 
tion seemed in sight were the questions of what member- 
ship in the Association really meant, and what particular 
place in the Association fellowship the rapidly increasing 
numbers of business and professional girls and women 
should occupy. 

This period was marked also by recognition of the need 
for highly specialized services on the part of local Associa- 
tions. The general Association worker who was a jack-of- 
all-trades, with corresponding limitations, was passing, and 
the trained worker with specialized academic equipment 
and experience was coming into prominence. There were 
now to be found on the rosters of local Associations, physi- 
cal directors, religious education secretaries, cafeteria 
directors, educational secretaries, employment bureau sec- 
retaries, room registry secretaries, case workers and many 
other specialists, as well as increasing numbers of persons 
skilled in work with some particular class of girls adoles- 
cents, girls in industry, and the foreign-speaking. 

58 



Recent Years 1906-1934 



So acute was the consciousness of the need to make a 
specialized approach to different groups of women and 
girls in the community, that the work of these specialists 
was protected and emphasized by a departmental form of 
organization. Only in some such way, probably, could it 
have been possible to break through the conventional gen- 
eral approach of offering to women and girls, in a central 
location, facilities and activities on the basis of subject 
interests such as physical education, general education and 
recreation. This general approach made during the early 
years had resulted in a homogeneous constituency of the 
middle-of-the-road variety. 

This homogeneity did not satisfy the Association leader- 
ship, and as they studied the situation it became evident 
that the most different groups such as industrial girls, 
Negroes, the foreign-born would not be reached by the 
Association without special efforts related to their own 
life-experiences and cultural backgrounds. This struggle, 
early deemed important, to make of the Association a true 
cross-section movement of all kinds of women and girls 
in the community, the nation and the world, has continued 
up to the present. Heterogeneity does not just happen; on 
a constructive basis of active comradeship it is a conscious 
and continuous process. 

The tendency to identify the rigidity of departmental 
organization with the use of specialized personnel and 
programs was ever with the Association, but as appreciation 
of the newer methods of learning through experience 
grew, so did understanding of the necessity for recognition 
of real differences in life-experience, if leadership growth 
was to take place in the different types of girls and women 
who make up the Association. 

59 



History of a Social Institution 



In this period were the beginnings of methods of work- 
ing with groups, methods that have proved their validity 
by their endurance. In 1908 the first federation of indus- 
trial clubs was organized in Detroit. This was a plan of 
work directed toward meeting the problems of industrial 
girls and helping them to develop leadership within their 
own groups through the use of self-governing clubs. In 
1910 the first International Institute, a specialized service 
for the protection and welfare of immigrant girls, was 
organized in New York City by the National Board. This 
plan was characterized by the use of workers who spoke the 
languages of the major foreign groups and who had the 
training that enabled them to help to adjust to American 
life girls and women strange not only to the language but 
to the customs and conventions of the new land. 

Negro women and girls had been for years within the 
fellowship of the Association. Here also the work had its 
beginnings in the Negro schools and spread outward to 
communities. Before the completion of the organization of 
the present national movement a study had been made of 
Negro schools, and a secretary for this work was immedi- 
ately placed on the new national staff. It was not, however, 
until 1914 that a secretary for Negro work in cities was 
added. 

The work with Indian girls and women, begun in 1892, 
had meanwhile slowly but steadily developed. From the 
beginning it was carried on in close cooperation with the 
Indian Bureau of the Department of the Interior, with 
the various church groups interested in Indians, with the 
Young Men's Christian Association, and with other agen- 
cies dealing with similar problems. By 1930 there were 
Associations in forty-one schools, with an approximate 
membership of 2,600. This work with Indian girls has had 
60 



Recent 'Years 1906-1934 



three main features: the attempt to help in preserving 
and strengthening the foundations of character, so that a 
girl does not break under the strain to which she is sub- 
jected in adjustments to new situations 5 the effort to in- 
terpret to the girl the outside world which she must enter, 
its difficulties, its responsibilities and its attractions 5 and 
finally the developing of an adequate leadership for this 
new life upon which the race is entering. A change of 
later years is the attempt to follow the girls, as they leave 
school, into their work life in the towns and cities to which 
they go. 

In the public mind, one apparently settled conviction 
about the Young Women's Christian Association is that it 
does and should house girls 5 consequently this work could 
not be neglected. Long and hard has been the struggle 
to organize residences on a self-supporting or, in the case 
of the larger units, on an income-producing basis, and to 
manage them in such a way that girls can be housed 
economically and happily. Much effort has been needed 
also to change the name of the housing unit from Young 
Women's Christian Association "home" to Young 
Women's Christian Association "residence," changing at 
the same time its connotation, which by the first decade of 
this century was that of a poorly run boarding house with 
many rules. As a result of this twofold effort the Young 
Women's Christian Association residence is today in most 
cities looked upon as a highly desirable place to live, and 
the Association itself is realizing its opportunity to influ- 
ence the girls who live under its roof in their attitudes 
toward home making, group living and good citizenship. 

At the time of the World War, communities became 
newly conscious of the needs of women and girls. The 

61 



History of a Social Institution 



Young Women's Christian Association, recognized as hav- 
ing had a wide experience in work with girls and women, 
was called upon to put this experience at the disposal of the 
whole country. Under a War Work Council, the total 
strength o the Association, locally and nationally, went 
into meeting the tremendous demands suddenly made 
upon it. Large sums of money were entrusted to it by the 
public. New responsibilities were assumed, such as the host- 
ess house work in government camps, which included the 
foreign, or nationality worker hostess for the f oreign-born 
soldiers and their even more foreign wives and mothers ; 
and the provision of recreation for men and women in 
military communities. The recruiting and training of a 
corps of Polish-American young women who as the Polish 
Grey Samaritans were sent to Poland for reconstruction 
work among their own people and became the chief lieu- 
tenants for the famous Hoover relief work, must be re- 
corded as one of the remarkable accomplishments of the 
War Work Council. 

There was also a great growth in the social work of the 
Association. Room registries, employment bureaus, trav- 
elers' aid and case workers were all taxed to the utmost 
to meet the perplexing problems of this period. Women 
and girls were flocking to industrial centers for war work, 
or to the neighborhood of the camps for the excitement 
and interest to be found there or to be near their men as 
long as possible. And as usual, the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association was expected to house girls. In some cases 
emergency housing was built 5 in others, already existing 
buildings were taken over; and in a short space of time 
hundreds of girls were finding safe shelter under the pro- 
tection of the Association. 

In addition to the work carried directly under the juris- 
62 



Recent Years 1906-1934 



diction of the War Work Council, grants of workers and 
money were made to local Associations to enable them to 
expand their programs and to meet more adequately the 
needs of the girls in their communities. Many women were 
attracted both to the secretarial and the volunteer leader- 
ship groups of the Association who had never before been 
interested in the Young Women's Christian Association. 
To some of them it was only a channel for war service 3 
to others it became a permanent interest. 

A predictable result of this war work was the strengthen- 
ing of the national organization. The responsibility for 
war work and for cooperation with the government rested 
upon the National Board through its special committee, 
the War Work Council. Through the influence of the 
War Work Council new Associations were organized and 
many old ones were reorganized with a larger program 
than before, made possible by the greater financial re- 
sources at their command. Consequently, the national or- 
ganization was placed in a position of prominence such as 
it had not before the war thought possible or perhaps 
desirable. At the same time there was revealed the in- 
creased strength brought to local as well as to national 
work through such closer working together. The Young 
Women's Christian Association had become in truth a 
national movement. 

Two outstanding characteristics of the organization as 
shown at this period seem to have been great flexibility 
in adapting its program, its personnel and its equipment 
to new and varied needs j and the speed with which this 
was done. Even before 1917, when little or nothing was 
heard of the newer processes of education as applied to the 
Young Women's Christian Association, nevertheless the 
Association was accustomed to rely for its success upon the 

63 



History of a Social Institution 



resourcefulness of its personnel rather than upon any 
fixed program. In other words, the essential element in the 
Young Women's Christian Association was leadership, 
both employed and volunteer, and the particular program 
of activities for which that leadership was responsible 
varied greatly and was closely related to particular com- 
munity situations. Therefore when the war came it was not 
too great a wrench to shift and expand these programs to 
meet shifting and expanding needs. 

Meanwhile the International Institute movement for 
foreign-speaking women and girls spread rapidly, as city 
after city became aware, all at the same time, of the dan- 
gers, the obligations and the opportunities presented by 
the presence of large foreign-born populations of differing 
speech and differing political loyalties. 

In 1917 the first conference of International Institutes 
was held in Pittsburgh. There were then eight fully organ- 
ized Institutes with staffs of nationality workers. This 
number increased through the war period until in 1920 
there were fifty-three International Institute branches of 
city Associations. These conferences have been continued 
ever since, meeting at the time of the national convention 
of the Young Women's Christian Associations, or as a kin- 
dred group of the National Conference of Social Work. 

In the autumn of 1918 the various types of work with 
adolescent girls, carried on by a growing number of Asso- 
ciations since 1881, were brought together into the Girl 
Reserve movement. Much work had been done with ado- 
lescents, not only school girls but also younger girls in 
business and industry, so that from the beginning four 
separate groups of girls were recognized: the seventh and 
64 



Recent Years 



eighth grade school girls, the junior high school girls, the 
older high school girls, and the younger girls in business 
and industry. 

The Girl Reserve movement, representing the younger 
membership of the Young Women's Christian Association, 
is not only an adolescent movement for girls, national in 
scope, but also an integral part of the wider fellowship of 
the Association. It is in large measure to the girls who 
have been part of the Girl Reserve movement that the 
whole Association, including the student group, looks for 
future leadership. The response to a plan of work which 
has as its chief emphasis the developing of program out of 
the needs and desires of the group rather than on a stand- 
ardized pattern has been encouraging and fruitful. In the 
two years between the starting of the Girl Reserve move- 
ment and the convention in Cleveland in 1920, the num- 
ber of secretaries working with younger girls increased 
from 125 to nearly 500 and the membership from 20,000 
to nearly 80,000$ by 1934 this number had mounted to 
more than 325,000. 

In 1919 the first national conference of industrial girls 
was held in Washington, D. C. Out of this conference 
grew the National Industrial Assembly which meets in 
connection with the national convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Association and holds together in a 
national organization the industrial girls throughout the 
Association. During the war period more than 300,000 
women and girls employed in war industries were served 
by the Young Women's Christian Association, many of 
them through industrial service centers where the indus- 
trial girls and women shared equally with women of the 
community responsibility for the policies and program of 

65 



History of a Social Institution 



work. This experience did much to develop the leadership 
of industrial girls and women to the point where they 
were able not only to carry positions of responsibility with- 
in their own groups but also to meet on equal terms with 
the rest of the leadership of the Association. 

In 1919, also, the national Young Women's Christian 
Association helped to form a separate organization for 
business women called the National Federation of Business 
and Professional Women. This seemed a necessary prelim- 
inary step in order to determine just what was the field 
of responsibility of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation with business and professional women and girls. 
From the beginning of the organization of the Young 
Women's Christian Association a large part of the mem- 
bership, particularly in city Associations, had been made 
up of business girls who desired to avail themselves of 
the privileges provided by the Association, and even be- 
fore the war there was increasing effort to get the more 
experienced business women to take responsibility on 
boards and committees. Following the organization of the 
National Federation of Business and Professional Women 
the Young Women's Christian Association determined to 
focus its program on the younger business girls and to 
work with them as a group having definite occupational 
interests of their own, differing from those of industrial 
girls and from other groups in the Association. 

This same year, 1919, the first building put up ex- 
pressly for colored women and girls was opened in New 
York City. This marked the beginning of the effort to 
provide in those cities where the numbers of the Negro 
population warrant it, equipment equal in attractiveness 
66 



Recent Years 



and variety to that provided for white groups, and in- 
creased opportunities for colored women to develop 
leadership within their own ranks. 

During this period student Associations also developed 
rapidly. The exceptional character of the campus as a type 
of community was recognized, as well as the fact that the 
total membership of a student Association changes each 
year and that consequently continuity of leadership or of 
program, if the Association is to remain in the hands of 
students, presents a difficult problem. 

During the war years, when increased sums of money 
were available, specialized work for students in various 
fields was developed through the national organization, 
particularly with nurses, professional students, and foreign 
students in the United States. Some of this work was car- 
ried through local Associations but in the main the de- 
velopment was dependent on the national Young 
Women's Christian Association. As national funds grew 
more restricted, parts of this work were given up, until in 
the later nineteen-twenties the student movement was 
again back to the place where almost its entire emphasis 
was upon developing the undergraduate Associations in 
the colleges and the universities. 

A significant aspect of the relationship of the student 
movement to the whole Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation was shown by the action of the 1922 convention, 
which gave to the student Associations the right to conduct 
their business in a Student Assembly, with the proviso that 
a report be made to the convention of matters which re- 
quired the action of the convention. The aim of student 
Association work is expressed in the following statement: 

6? 



History of a Social Institution 



The ultimate aim of the student Association is for each 
girl to have an experience of God that transforms her life. 
Some girls arrive at such an experience subjectively and find 
expression for it through response to the challenge of inter- 
racial or industrial relationships. Some girls first reach the 
experience objectively, as they find their place in helping to 
bring in the Kingdom of God on earth through work upon 
some problem which compels their best and for which they 
find themselves inadequate without a relationship to God. 2 

Again, in the report to the 1934 convention the statement 
is made that "religion the Christian religion is the em- 
phasis of the National Student Council." 3 This report also 
points out the continuing importance of maintaining a 
movement by students rather than a movement jor 
students. 

The work of the Student Council of the Young 
Women's Christian Association has always been done in 
close cooperation with the Student Council of the Young 
Men's Christian Association. Over the years, as this co- 
operation has grown and taken form, in a joint committee 
called the "Council of Christian Associations/' the ques- 
tion has repeatedly arisen as to the separation of these two 
student movements from the Young Men's and Young 
Women's Christian Associations to form in the United 
States, as is the case in most European countries, a sepa- 
rate and independent student movement. The closeness of 
relationship between the two student movements has 
shown itself in joint summer conferences, many joint 
meetings of other descriptions, the issuing of literature 
by a joint committee, and similar projects. The desire for 
independence of the women's student movement has ap- 
parently been much less since the convention action giving 
almost complete authority in student affairs to the Student 
68 



Recent Years 1906-1934 



Assembly. Control is exercised by the National Board over 
student matters in the interim between assemblies only at 
the points of the size of the national student budget., na- 
tional personnel, and such central policies as purpose and 
basis. The student movement nationally is far from self- 
supporting. 

In its work on local campuses the student movements of 
the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciations are closely related to the Student Volunteer Move- 
ment and to the work of the churches. The common ob- 
jectives of these various groups working with students 
brought about., in 1934, the organization of the National 
Commission on Consultations About Student Christian 
Work. This commission, representative of the six groups 
principally concerned, namely: the university and college 
administrations 5 the churches; the student Young 
Women's Christian Association; the student Young Men's 
Christian Association; the Student Volunteer Movement; 
and faculty, alumni, and friends, presented in March 1935 
a progress report, and states as its first conclusion the 
following: 

In the light of the year's study it is the judgment of the 
commission that, if the conditions necessary to assure success 
can be achieved, a single unified Student Christian Move- 
ment in the United States is desirable. (One member of the 
commission dissents from this conclusion.) In the commis- 
sion's opinion, those conditions do not yet fully exist. 4 

The report discusses at length the various sectional de- 
velopments toward unity and problems of organization as 
well as the fundamental questions of philosophy, message 
and function. 

The results of these further studies by the commission 



History of a Social Institution 



are still uncertain. For women students the question in- 
evitably arises as to the significance and values of a move- 
ment of women, which tends to mean that the values of a 
united student movement will be supplementary rather 
than a substitute for national Young Women's Christian 
Association relationships. This basic question of the place 
of women in community and national life affects both 
directly and indirectly all attempts at unity on the basis 
of message alone. 

In 1922 the first national assembly of industrial girls 
met at Hot Springs in connection with the national con- 
vention. This was the beginning of a national movement 
among industrial girls which not only has furnished op- 
portunity for the industrial membership of the Associa- 
tion to discuss its problems and plans on a national basis 
but has done much to interpret this particular part of the 
membership to the whole. 

Two years later the first national assembly of business 
and professional women in the Young Women's Christian 
Association met in connection with the national convention 
in New York City. By that time the Young Women's 
Christian Association had apparently gained a sense of 
direction with regard to its responsibility and opportunity 
in this particular field. The business woman, as has been 
said, has always played a large part in the development of 
the Young Women's Christian Association. It was not un- 
til after the war, however, that the Association became 
definitely conscious of the need to develop group con- 
sciousness among the younger girls in business and the 
professions and thus give them the opportunity to face 
together their common problems. This group of business 
girls has developed into a powerful part of the fellowship 
70 



Recent 'Years 



of the Young Women's Christian Association. To the 
World's conference at Budapest in 1928 there were sent 
from the United States an industrial girl representing the 
National Industrial Council and a business girl repre- 
senting the National Business Women's Council. It was 
the first time that official delegates from these groups had 
been sent to a World's conference. 

This principle of diversity, illustrated by the develop- 
ment of these three movements, has not been easy either 
to reach or to maintain. Left to itself any local Association 
tends to become homogeneous and to slough off the most 
different parts. Years ago it was recognized that if the 
really different groups of the community, such as the 
women and girls in industry, the foreign-born who do not 
speak English, and the Negro girls, were to be a part of 
any Young Women's Christian Association it was neces- 
sary to make special provision for them. The careful plans 
developed for access to these groups have brought them 
into the fellowship of the organization nationally and to a 
considerable extent locally. Nevertheless, experience seems 
to show that it is necessary to be constantly vigilant if 
these more different elements are to continue to be an in- 
tegral part of the whole and function naturally within the 
voting membership. 

Money came easily during the war years. To spend 
wisely and well was the problem, rather than to do with- 
out or to save. But as early as 1920 this situation was 
changing rapidly. With the war over, the enthusiasm for 
service and for sacrifice was gone. People were eager to 
turn their time and their attention to their own affairs, 
to forget the horrors of the war years, and to lose them- 
selves in a round of intensive personal activities and in- 

71 



History of a Social Institution 



terests. Social organizations like the Young Women's 
Christian Association saw not only their money coming in 
ever more slowly but also a rapidly decreasing corps o 
volunteer workers. 

The national organization as well as local Associations 
found themselves at this period with a greatly expanded 
program, with communities expecting far more than they 
ever had in the past, and with diminishing resources. For 
local Associations the trend toward federated financing, or 
community chests as it was more commonly called, did 
much to answer their financial problems. Reduction was 
still necessary, but, using in many instances the machinery 
of the old war work campaigns, the new community chests 
did stabilize and put a firm foundation under local social 
agencies, including the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation, 

The reports for these years show an increasing emphasis 
upon relationships with other organizations. Always 
closely allied with the Young Men's Christian Association, 
having sprung from the same roots and with similar pur- 
poses and ideals, nevertheless the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association now began to find itself frequently in- 
volved in problems of relationship with this organization. 
Until this time the differentiation of Young Men's Chris- 
tian Association work for men and boys from the Young 
Women's Christian Association work for women and girls 
had been sufficiently clear to prevent overlapping or con- 
flict of interest, to any great degree. During the war, 
however, many Young Men's Christian Associations 
opened their doors to serve women and girls, partly be- 
cause men and boys were gone and their buildings were 
not being sufficiently used, partly because women and girls 
72 



Recent Years 



were demanding the same facilities and use of equipment 
which were available for boys and men. 

This extension of work of the Young Men's Christian 
Association to include women and girls inevitably brought 
misunderstanding. In communities where there was no 
Young Women's Christian Association it was often as- 
sumed that such a department of the Young Men's 
Christian Association was a Young Women's Christian 
Association. In other places, particularly in smaller com- 
munities, the organization of a Young Men's Christian 
Association, with its demand upon community resources, 
while it did not include membership functioning of women 
seemed to prevent Young Women's Christian Association 
organization. It is this attempt, conscious or unconscious, 
on the part of the Young Men's Christian Association to 
substitute activities for women under their leadership for 
the Young Women's Christian Association, a definitely 
woman's movement, which seems to have led to the con- 
fusion still existing in the mind of the public in regard to 
the functions of the two organizations. 

In this period also was the beginning of a closer rela- 
tionship with other social agencies which were concerned 
with housing, community recreation, girls' group work and 
individual problems, and of a recognition of the impor- 
tance of basic social technique and of kinship between the 
methods of the Association and those of other agencies, 
even though their schedule and purposes were different. 

As the war period passed, the need was evident for 
programs that had both a sense of direction and continuity. 
Probably the most important aid in the development of 
successful program was the application of the newer edu- 
cational processes to methods of work. In the early days, 

73 



History of a Social Institution 



programs were evolved out of the minds of the leaders, 
who sought through various means to impress upon their 
young followers the desirability of the objectives which 
these programs were designed to accomplish. In most cases 
the objectives were good, but seldom were they realized. 
Consequently the leaders were ready to join heartily in the 
experimentation of educationalists in producing a new set 
of principles for the guidance of program makers. 

These principles rested upon the assumption that pro- 
grams, to be effective, must evolve from the need of the 
group, and that the group itself must give expression to 
this need as its members see it and in terms that they them- 
selves will recognize. This turn from programs handed 
down from above to programs drawn out of the constituent 
groups was quickly understood and accepted by the Young 
Women's Christian Association because the principles un- 
derlying this change were precisely those which underlay 
the rock-bottom objective of the Association to associate 
women and girls of varied experience in carrying out a 
common purpose. 

A part of this increased emphasis on the wider aspects 
of education was an appreciation of the value of the process. 
It was something of a new idea in the Association world 
that the way in which a program was made could be of as 
much value to self-expression and character development 
as the finished plan. To the secretary responsible, and to 
the committee, this effort to encourage growth intelligently 
was a far more painstaking task than to pass on patterns. 
The same conception of education that was growing in the 
world at large was present also in the Association the con- 
ception that education is not to stuff with facts but to in- 
crease understanding. One educator has defined education 
as "the process, or combination of processes, by which a 

74 



Recent Years 



child is helped to discover, at least partially, his own po- 
tentialities 5 the nature of the things and people which 
surround him, how they came to be the way they are, how 
they behave 5 those ultimate realities, of which words can 
only hint, which are the springs of courage, serenity, peace 5 
and, finally, a method of correlating his world with him- 
self and both together with the ultimates." 5 

A natural result of this conception was to focus interest 
on the individual rather than on the subjects taught in 
classes or in the meeting of unrelated desires. This change 
showed most clearly in the way in which the program 
of the Association began to take form. Programs involving 
groups grow out of the experience and the desires of the 
persons who share in them. Program in this sense includes 
both administration, as the method by which program takes 
shape, and content, as the subject matter which gives it 
depth and richness. 

An example of this change is the fact that in later years 
there has been less emphasis on the self-governing club as 
such. Clubs are recognized as one of the ways of encour- 
aging growth, but there is at the same time much experi- 
mentation with informal groups. This realization of the 
importance of the growth of the individual has been suffi- 
ciently long in the philosophy of work of some Associa- 
tions, and particularly of some departments, to have pro- 
duced much interest in developing a plan for record keep- 
ing which will make it possible for an Association to have 
some basis of judgment as to the success of the work being 
done, in terms of the character development of individuals. 

Nor has the Association been content to apply these prin- 
ples only to program making. It has ventured out on even 
more unsurveyed fields in attempting to apply the same 
basic educational principles to its administrative processes. 

75 



History of a Social Institution 



At this point educators and school leaders had little to 
give, consequently the Association has been forced to pio- 
neer efforts. Its leadership has worked on the problems of 
committee and board organization, of staff leadership) of 
the relationship of staff and volunteer workers. It has stud- 
ied the making of agendas and the processes through which 
decisions are made and put into effect j it has experimented 
in building policies and program out of the contribution of 
many different persons and groups. 

By these methods women and girls are being trained 
through participation in the work of the Young Women's 
Christian Association for the difficult position of responsible 
citizenship in the institutions of democracy. The policy of 
the national organization, the knitting together of the 
varied strands of national life, and the continual pouring 
into the hopper of work-to-be-done of the accumulated 
wisdom and experience of varied types of women and girls 
all over this wide country seem to be imperfectly under- 
stood and only in the beginnings of accomplishment. 

Every Young Women's Christian Association in the 
United States, like all other institutions, was and still is 
directly affected in some way by the economic depression 
beginning in the late nineteen-twenties. Not only have 
heavy demands been made on Associations by their regular 
clientele, but their buildings have been in many places the 
natural centers to which other girls and women in need 
have turned or have been directed. Relief has been part of 
the program j in some cases through loans, in others 
through direct supplying of shelter, food or clothes. Effort 
has been intensified toward securing jobs whenever pos- 
sible. Special emphasis has been put also on personal ad- 
justment problems* 

76 



Recent 'Years 1906-1934 



In most places there has been little recognition of the 
effect that unemployment has on women and girls. Appar- 
ently a large section of the public still thinks in terms of 
every woman's having a family group on which she can 
fall back in case of real need. The change from a rural 
civilization with spacious, even if inconvenient, homes, and 
food of some kind, to an urban civilization characterized 
by small family units, apartment-house living, and de- 
pendence for food and all other necessities on an earned 
wage, has been imperfectly realized by people in general. 
For many women and girls the Young Women's Christian 
Association is the only substitute for family protection. 
Keeping up the morale of the unemployed has been nat- 
urally accepted as one of the tasks of the Young Women's 
Christian Association, and free recreation, educational 
classes, vocational schools, and other activities giving 
opportunities for friendship and normal living have been 
provided by Associations all over this country. 

SOURCES 

1 Sumner, William G. "Institutions and Mores" in Intro- 
duction to the Science of Sociology > Park and Burgess. (Chi- 
cago: University of Chicago Press, 1921). 

2 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Ninth National Convention (1926), p. 17. 

3 Lloyd- Jones, Mrs. Silas, and Wygal, Winnifred. "Report 
of the National Student Council/' Woman* Press, XXVIII 
(April, 1934), pp. 187-189. 

4 The Organization of Student Christian Work, A Report 
of the National Commission on . Consultations About Student 
Christian Work, March 1934-March 1935. 

77 



History of a Sozml Institution 



5 Belly Bernard Iddings. Common Sense In Education (New 
York: William Morrow & Company, 1928). 

GENERAL REFERENCES 

Report of the First Biennial Contention of the Young 
Women's Christian- Dissociations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (New York City, 1906). 

Reports of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
National Conventions (1909, 1911, 1913, 1915* 1920, 1922, 
1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1932). 

Proceedings of the National Conventions of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (1909, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1926, 
1928, 1930, 1932). 

Sims, Mary S. The First Twenty-five Years (New York: 
The Womans Press, 1932). 

Unpublished reports of the National War Work Council 
of the Young Women's Christian Associations at 600 Lexing- 
ton Avenue, New York City* 

Published report of the National War Work Council of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations (1920). 

The Handbook of the Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation Movement (1914, 1916, 1919). 

Year Book of the Young Women's Christian Associations of 
the United States of America (1910-1911). 



CHAPTER IV 

The Woman Movement and the Young Women's 
Christian Association 

THE Young Women's Christian Association came into 
being, in the United States, in New York City in 
18585 at a time when women were beginning to feel the 
effects of their gradually increased freedom from house- 
hold cares as well as an increased desire to use their new 
gains in education. One historian of this period points out 
that the great hardships and toil undergone during the 
pioneering period by American women were somewhat 
compensated for by improvement in their legal status in 
regard to their rights of property and also by the extraordi- 
nary freedom that they had. These results are attributed 
in the main to the general scarcity of women during this 
period. 1 Another writer describes this period in the follow- 
ing fashion: 

The advance of American women between 1833 and 
1 86 1 may be likened to an opening fan. In 1883 the ivory 
sticks have just parted, disclosing thin lines of color. During 
the next quarter of a century they spread wider and wider, 
revealing the high lights of an uncorrelated design ... by 
the beginning of the Civil War one sees that there lies con- 
cealed in the still unfolded pleats a perfected pattern of 
beauty. 2 

In the years just previous to 1858 state women's rights 
organizations appeared in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, 

79 



History of a Social Institution 



Massachusetts and Kansas. Apparently there was no con- 
certed action between the states and the growth of these 
women ? s organizations was a sort of spontaneous combus- 
tion out of existing circumstances. Many writers of this 
period have attributed the rapidly increasing advance of 
women into active share in affairs outside their own homes 
to the higher and better education of American women, an 
education which was taking shape in the early half of the 
nineteenth century. 

At least one interesting woman, however, saw that in 
addition to education there must also be the opportunity 
to use it. This woman was Sarah Hale. In her book, The 
Lady of Godey's, Mrs. Ruth E. Finley quotes her as say- 
ing: "There can be no education without leisure, and with- 
out leisure education is worthless." 3 Mrs. Finley con- 
tinues to comment that this belief was back of every "fight 
she made for women, back of the great magazine she 
edited. It was the formula of her service to her sex." This 
same book tells of Mrs. Male's interest in all the various 
labor-saving devices for the household that were appearing 
in those early days, such as a "double skillet for boiling 
milk," a particularly useful "rotary egg-beater," and other 
equally helpful contrivances. The sewing machine was 
also a great saver of labor, and all of them together re- 
duced by many hours a week the time that a woman needed 
to give to housekeeping. A recent writer emphasizes the 
same points in saying: "Recent social movements, of which 
the Woman's Movement is one example, have developed 
largely because of the extension of leisure to new sections 
of the community." 4 

The changes in the outlook and opportunities of women 
were not confined to any one class: 
80 



The Woman Movement and the Association 

Among the working classes, the women who labored for 
wages got a certain amount of money they could now call 
their own and by their expenditures helped to give a trend 
to taste, at least In mass production. In the middle orders, 
especially the more prosperous ranges, thousands of women, 
escaping completely from the grind of factory, office and 
kitchen, secured leisure and means for reading, traveling 
and social undertakings. Supplementing these economic re- 
sources was the system of inheritances, which by giving 
wives and daughters control over large estates, set many of 
them free to follow their whims, to patronize artists, musi- 
cians, lecturers and writers as few had done heretofore, 
except in the case of queens and other ladies of high degree, 
to indulge in amateur excursions on their own account. 
Under various pressures, therefore, the gravity of women's 
interests steadily moved from the center of the family out- 
ward toward the periphery of that circle where it merged 
into the larger humanities. 5 

Such a situation of relative economic independence as 
well as increased leisure fostered the growth of organiza- 
tions of women, organizations of many kinds the Monday 
Clubs, the Shakespeare Coteries, Browning Societies, and 
many others. To some of these women the appeal of a 
religious organization, particularly in view of their almost 
absolute exclusion from the control side of organized 
church work, was strong. 

It seems natural that women with the wider educational 
outlook and with at least some time to spend in ways of 
their own choosing should look for a means of self-expres- 
sion outside their own homes. The widespread evangelical 
revival of the fifties in the Protestant churches brought, 
moreover, to the women of those churches an incentive to 

81 



History of a Social Institution 



spend themselves for worthwhile ends, that is, the end of 
the salvation of individual souls. 

In the large cities the need was very evident. Women 
and girls were coming from the smaller communities to 
avail themselves of the increasing opportunities to earn 
their own living in some form of industry. These women 
were often in a pitiable condition. They needed a place to 
live. Many lodging-house keepers refused to take women, 
feeling that because of their insistence upon washing their 
own clothes and cooking their own meals they were too 
great a nuisance. Most of them were untrained for any 
particular work or service. To this extent, at least, it would 
seem that the Young Women's Christian Association was 
one of the concomitants of the increasing tendency toward 
urbanization. 

R, M. Maclver in Society Its Structure and CJmnges > 
points out that the effect of the city environment on the 
social life and attitudes of women is still an unexplored 
subject. He says: "It is obvious that the changes and func- 
tions of the family which the city develops have been of 
peculiar significance to woman, alike as mother, as wife, 
as housekeeper and as economic producer. It has limited 
her tasks and liberated her from the exclusiveness of 
domesticity." 6 

The question of to what extent the Young Women's 
Christian Association can be considered a part of the so- 
called woman movement is one open to much speculation. 
Its responsibility "as women for women" is constantly em- 
phasized, particularly its responsibility, as a group, for 
putting the necessities of women first. The Boston Asso- 
ciation was organized in 1866, but the desire for it had 
come a number of years earlier from a group of Christian 
82 



The Woman Movement and the Association 

women who, when they consulted their pastors, were given 
the answer that something must be done for boys and 
men first. That attitude has threaded down through the 
decades even as late as the economic depression of 1929 
and the following years. It is apparently not that men or 
people in general do not consider the welfare of women 
important ; they merely consider it of less importance than 
the welfare of men and boys, and therefore when a choice 
must be made between the two, the work for women and 
girls is sacrificed. The particular group of women who 
formed the Young Women's Christian Association were 
determined that the interest of women and girls should 
be uppermost in their minds but it was not their only 
interest. 

Their final goal seems to have been the welfare of people 
in general, though they considered their direct responsi- 
bility to be for women. As has been noted (page 14), as 
early as 1876 questions like this arose: "Is it well for 
Young Women's Christian Associations in new towns 
where there are no reading-rooms for young men, to 
open their rooms to young people of both sexes?" 7 

Even though there was increased leisure, apparently 
there was criticism of women's spending time in Associ- 
ation work. Mrs. Davis, president of the Cincinnati Asso- 
ciation, at the annual meeting in 1869 spoke as follows: 

Christian women are feeling more and more strongly that 
they should devote themselves less exclusively to the mere 
externals of life, and that they should occupy at least their 
acknowledged legitimate field, that of caring for the less 
fortunate and less happy of their own sex. ... It is not 
likely that anyone whose conscience is so tender that she can- 
not resist the command to "go about doing good" will ever 

83 



History of a Social Institution 



neglect the nearer and more binding obligations she as- 
sumes as wife and mother and friend. 8 

The same lady two years later pointed out the satisfac- 
tion inherent In a work looked upon as worth while by its 
doers. "Ladies whose easy circumstances have liberated 
them somewhat from the exactions of housekeeping are 
becoming more and more conscious of the fact that life 
is too valuable to bestow it all upon the routine of social 
and fashionable duties." 9 

In endeavoring to help girls to find work in cities and 
to have also a normal 3 happy personal life, these women 
evidently encountered prejudice against girls' working 
outside their own homes. In 1879 an article entitled "False 
Sentiment as to Work for Young Ladies" speaks as fol- 
lows: 

A false sentiment has rendered it derogatory for a woman 
to be a business woman, for a girl to earn or appreciate dol- 
lars and cents, if she can possibly find a father, brother or 
uncle to support her. . . . 

Girls speak of it as a hardship if they are obliged by stress 
of circumstances to earn a support. 10 

It was not merely the question of social status with 
which the Young Women's Christian Association had to 
contend. There were misgivings about woman's mental 
and physical ability. Not long after the typewriter was 
invented, in 1873, the New York City Association organ- 
ized the first typing class of which there is record. Eight 
girls registered for it, but immediately questions arose. 
The records show that the education committee of the 
Association discussed for a long time the physical danger 
of so arduous an undertaking. Finally the decision was 

84 



The Woman Movement md the Association 

made that there should be a thorough physical examina- 
tion of all applicants and that those who passed such an 
examination satisfactorily would be given a trial. The 
opinion was expressed, however, that the female mind and 
constitution would be certain to break under the strain of 
a six months' course in stenography and typewriting. It 
is good to note that the records state that the class of 
eight was graduated without a single casualty and placed 
in positions. 11 

The demand for "female typewriters 5 ' was immediate. 
A number of business firms in New York felt that it was 
more satisfactory to have their letters typewritten than 
written by hand. About the same time a speaker at the 
conference in Cleveland, in 1879, made this statement: 
"The fact is now acknowledged, that a woman can acquire 
as nice mechanical methods as those in use among mascu- 
line skilled workers. Her capacity is limited only by her 
endurance," and then goes on to say: "But there is one 
field of work in which woman can never be misplaced, 
which ensures to them comfort and commendation. That 
field is the home." 12 These statements were made in con- 
nection with a speech on training women for work outside 
their own homes. It outlined in detail the work of various 
private and public institutions for teaching cooking, house- 
hold management and dairy work. 

In those early days the women in the Association found 
it possible to see humor in some of the statements or advice 
given to them by men. In an article on "Rules for Lady 
Travelers" the following advice appears: "Under all cir- 
cumstances endeavor to retain presence of mind. One who 
can do this will never have any trouble traveling; and 
instead of its being unwise for women to travel alone, I 
think it an advantage to them to make trips alone." 13 

85 



History of a Social Institution 



Some months later an article, evidently a burlesque, ap- 
peared in the same magazine, making such statements as: 
"Address the conductor every ten minutes. It pleases him 
to have you notice him. If you can't think of any new 
question to ask him, ask him the same old one every time." 
"Be sure you know where you want to go before you get 
on the train." 14 

Women's lack of training for earning their own living 
has apparently been another matter of great concern to 
the Association. In 1883 the following recommendations 
were made by the same Cleveland conference: 

Resolved: That this conference do earnestly recommend 
to the mothers in our land the great importance of training 
their daughters to some profession or employment, whereby 
they can earn their livelihood should sudden reverse of for- 
tune take place. 15 

There seems little or no evidence, in published records, 
of interest in or attempts to gain opportunities for women 
that should be equal to the opportunities for men. Instead 
of an emphasis on equal rights, the emphasis was on the 
development of woman as a personality and the assump- 
tion of responsibility by the more privileged women for 
the less privileged, in this quest. Statements that show 
this sense of responsibility were constantly made: "This 
work of women for women so recently begun . . . has 
grown to be an enormous work with grand and glorious 
results/' "It is woman's faith in woman, and woman's 
faith in God that has enabled us to organize." 16 A young 
college girl, in speaking to a state convention in 1890, 
expresses the same point of view: "If, then, girls owe 
so much to one another simply as girls simply as girls 
who have not yet taken on the deeper, grander obliga- 
86 



The Woman Movement and the Association 

tions of Christians what then shall I say that girls of the 
Young Women's Christian Association owe one an- 
other?" 17 We see, too, the desire that women in the Asso- 
ciation should remain womanly. Such exhortations as, "Let 
us be womanly, let us be thorough," are common in 
speeches and reports. By 1894 women were evidently be- 
ginning to feel that they had made their way in industry. 
One statement says: "There is no reputable profession, 
trade or employment which men engage in, In which 
women have not shown ability to labor also, and to suc- 
ceed." 18 

The consciousness on the part of the leaders of the 
Young Women's Christian Association of their work as 
women for women is always evident. The following state- 
ments are typical: 19 

The Young Women's Christian Association had, she said, 
been the pioneer in all organized work by women for 
women; it was the pioneer in all religious and philanthropic 
work, the leader in educational effort for self-supporting 
women, with a platform the broadest yet occupied by 
women. 

Noble women the world over were more and more com- 
ing to join the fight for truth against error, virtue against 
vice, for right against wrong; willing to be, even, for truth's 
sake, misunderstood and to suffer, if by any means they may 
help their sisters in need. The watchword of the Association 
was service for others for Christ's sake. Their aim, the 
uplifting of all women, spiritually, mentally and physically. 

The leadership of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation has apparently felt from the earliest days that 
women could understand women far better than men 
could. In an article in 1878 in Faith md Works, the state- 



History of a Social Institution 



ment is made about a hotel run by men for working women 
in New York City, that "no one man is wise enough to 
prepare rules for the government of a thousand women." 
The article, entitled "A Gigantic Failure/' seems to take 
some pleasure in analyzing the reasons why this hotel 
was a failure. The reasons given are that the fittings, car- 
pets and so on were out of keeping with the moderate dress 
a working woman can afford to buy and no woman likes 
to appear shabby; that the rules were too stringent and 
"made the hotel not a home but an asylum." It points 
out that the fact that the women living there were not 
allowed to have "pictures, birds, plants, extra pieces of 
furniture" and above all, "sewing machines and trunks," 
was largely responsible for the scheme's failure. Then the 
highly practical question is asked, "Why was it opened in 
the spring when women had made engagements from the 
fell until summer with their boarding houses?" 20 

Many of the conceptions of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association have centered about the home and woman's 
pkce in it. This phraseology has apparently not aroused 
in this particular group of women the antagonism that it 
aroused in the women directly concerned with women's 
rights. Rather they have gloried in the fact that their 
strong point was in preserving the home and in influencing 
future generations. Their insistence came at the point of 
extending that influence into the world at large instead of 
confining it to the one home of which they were a part. 
One of the main incentives to the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association to open boarding homes in cities was the 
fact that the existing commercial homes did not wish to 
take women. Again, the opening of various educational 
classes was due to the fact that women could not find such 
educational opportunities in other agencies of the com- 
88 



The Woman Movement and the Association 

munity, public or private. It would seem as if the right of 
women to develop along their own line was the right 
which seemed most important to the leaders of the Young 
Women's Christian Association. Their commitment from 
early times, and recorded in convention actions from 1910 
down, was to industrial legislation for the protection of 
women. This put them outside the equal rights group as 
such, and has tended to build interest in working condi- 
tions per se rather than as confined to women. 

While the leaders in the Young Women's Christian 
Association showed an interest in public affairs long be- 
fore 1919, as is shown by the records of conventions, 
nevertheless the passing in that year of the nineteenth 
amendment to the constitution of the United States, giv- 
ing suffrage to women, did increase their direct interest in 
and responsibility for citizenship and the molding of public 
opinion. The following statement appears in the report of 
the 1920 convention: 

Through the experience of the last five years women have 
discovered their potential power in public affairs, and with 
the granting of the franchise there has come to them the 
responsibility for active participation in the life of the body 
politic. Many women are not as yet prepared to meet these 
responsibilities. Many have need of guidance in adjusting 
their private lives to the challenging demands of full citi- 
zenship. There is necessity for careful study of the contribu- 
tion which women can bring to national and international 
problems. Therefore, 

It is recommended that the Young Women's Christian 
Association use its resources to further the preparation of 
women for responsible citizenship and to direct their ener- 
gies toward the achievement of social righteousness. 21 



History of a Social Institution 



From the records of the national organization it seems 
evident that nationally the Young Women's Christian 
Association was fully conscious of itself as a woman move- 
ment. The following statement appears in the report of the 
Fourth National Convention in 1913: 

We have a woman movement; this is woman's hour: 
these are expressions so trite that we hear them in our very 
sleep; even the magazines are full of them. What is it all 
about? A friend said the other day that it simply means that 
everything that woman has been doing has moved out of 
the home; education first, then most of our religious insti- 
tutions, and now all our little infant industries have gone out 
of the home and women have followed, and in a very pro- 
found sense of the word our women are "away from home." 
This is true not only of wage-earning women but of other 
women also; even if they spend their days in the four walls 
of their houses they are away from home as far as the old 
meaning is concerned. What does this mean but that this 
community into which they have gone out shall be made 
homelike? First, women have found that they are not safe 
out in a community. They find they have to become ad- 
justed to a new order, their sense of values is distorted, there 
is danger of their losing their bearings; so it is not strange 
that many women are bewildered and that the word "un- 
easy" is applied to them. 22 

Here again the conceptions of home and family were used 
to point out the place of the organization in the community. 
In a report of the fifth convention, in 1915, the statement 
is made that at a world's conference the previous June, 
where twenty-five nations were represented, they were all 
talking about woman's awakening. The following com- 
ment was then made: 
90 



The Woman Movement and the Association 

What is it that we are awaking to? Well, a great many 
things that time would fail me to mention. But for our pur- 
poses this afternoon it is enough to draw attention to one of 
the most significant; we are awaking to one another. Illus- 
trations are numerous. An outstanding one, of course, is that 
if there is a new consciousness of that most ancient of evils, 
in the last analysis, in the end of the day, it is because women 
at last know something about one another, are awaking out 
of their ignorance of one another. 23 

In that same report an attempt is made to state the 
place of the Young Women's Christian Association in this 
particular movement of women as follows: 

Ours is a movement of women. It seems to me there is 
no more pertinent question it is a very solemn question 
for us to ask ourselves here at the very beginning of this con- 
vention than this: What has this movement of ours to do 
with the stirring of the women of the world? There are 
many movements in the world; is this but one movement 
the waters whereof are sweet, but with no perceptible influ- 
ence upon the stream, or does it avail to shape the course? 
Has it power, can it become dominant? Is it presumption, or 
is it our responsibility to ask ourselves whether it can do that 
and whether it ought to do it? 

What are some of the reasons which give us some right 
to expect that this particular woman's movement should or 
may shape the trend of the stream in this nation? First, it is 
the Church's stake in the whole woman movement. Sec- 
ond, it is a movement of all types of women; all communi- 
ties are represented in it. Third, it is perfectly sure of its 
goal, and many of these streams are not. Fourth, being a 
Christian movement, it is to be expected that its vision should 
outrun that of any other. 

Women's problems have ever been the job of the Asso- 
ciation. A particularly interesting phase of this has been 

91 



History of a Social Institution 



the attempt to face the question of the health of women. 
In the report to the Sixth National Convention in 1920 
the following statement is made: 

The traditional attitude of women toward health has 
been one of the greatest bars to economic and social prog- 
ress. The acceptance of the medieval teaching of women's 
physical incapacity has been at the root of the failure to in- 
spire both men and women with a sense of responsibility 
for superb physical fitness. The Association is bending its 
energies to eradicate from the minds of women the old at- 
titude by practical demonstrations of the possibility of over- 
coming physical handicaps and establishing health as a practi- 
cal instead of a merely theoretical norm. 24 

This particular point of view in regard to health is, ac- 
cording to the reports, the background against which the 
health education work of the Young Women's Christian 
Association in local communities has been done for the past 
fifteen years. To the extent that health becomes the ac- 
cepted norm for women, much has been added to the pos- 
sibility of their taking successful part in the everyday life 
of business and industry. 

In looking back over the years it seems plain that the 
Young Women's Christian Association has considered one 
of its first responsibilities to be that of knowing and un- 
derstanding women and of making their interests, needs 
and desires its first and paramount responsibility. With 
such a point of view as a groundwork, the leadership of the 
Association apparently has been willing to give considera- 
tion to any question or matter which affected the lives and 
interests of women and girls. As expressed in program it 
runs the gamut from providing a safe and reasonably 
priced pkce to live, through offering educational and voca- 
92 



The Woman Movement and the Association 

tional opportunities, to helping them to meet their re- 
sponsibilities as citizens and the many questions of their 
personal adjustment, as in relationships between boys and 
girls, family relationships, the advisability of a married 
woman's working outside her own home. Again and again, 
too, it comes back to the subject of international relations 
and world peace as being of peculiar interest to women 
and one in which their responsibility is great. 

SOURCES 

1 Adams, James Tmslow. The Efic of America (New 
York: Little Brown & Company, 1931), p. 289. 

2 Irwin, Inez Haynes. Angels and Amazons (New York: 
Doubleday Doran & Company, 1933), p. 119. 

3 Finley, Mrs. Ruth E. The Lady of Godey's: Sarah Jo- 
sef ha Hale (Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott Com- 
pany, 1931), p. 158. 

4 Burns, C. Delisle. Leisure in the Modern World (New 
York: Century Press, 1932), p. 154. 

5 Beard, Charles and Mary. The Rise of American Civiliza- 
tion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1928), Vol. II, 
p. 404. 

6 Maclver, R. M. Society Its Structure and Changes 
(New York: Ray Long & Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1931), 

P- 373- 

7 Faith and Works > II (December, 1876), p. 51. 

8 Davis, Mrs. John. Address at the First Annual Meeting 
of the Woman's Christian Association of Cincinnati, Ohio 

(1869). 

9 Davis, Mrs. John. Opening Address, Minutes of the Na- 
tional Conference of Women*s Christian Associations (Hart- 
ford, 1871), pp. 5-6. 

10 Author unknown. "False Sentiments as to Work for 
Young Ladies/' Faith and Works, IV (July, 1879), p. 168. 

93 



History of a Social Institution 



11 Unpublished records of the New York City Association. 

12 Corson, Juliet. "Domestic Training Schools for Women," 
Journal of the Fifth International Conference of Women's 
Christian Associations (Cleveland, 1879), PP- 3 2 "35- 

13 "Rules for Lady Travelers/' quoted from the Chicago 
Tribune in Faith and Works, IV (January, 1879), p. 69. 

14 Author unknown. "Rules for Ladies Traveling Alone," 
Faith and Works, VI (September, 1880), pp. 8-9. 

15 Report of the Seventh International Conference of 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States and the 
British Provinces (Boston, 1883), p. 13. 

16 Author unknown. "Women's Work for Women," 
Y.W.C.A. Quarterly, I (March, 1889), p. 2, 

17 Stevens, Ella. "What Do Girls Owe One Another?" 
Re fort of the Seventh Annual Convention of the Y.W.C.ASs 
of Ohio (1890), pp. 52-54. 

18 Author unknown. "What Women Are Doing/ 3 Evan- 
gel } Vl (March, 1894), p. 3. 

19 Journal of the Fourteenth Biennial Conf. of the Inter- 
national Board of Women's and Young Women's Christian 
Associations (Montreal, 1897), p. 6. 

20 Author unknown. "A Gigantic Failure," Faith and 
Works, III (June, 1878), p, 146. 

21 Report of the Sixth National Convention of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations of the United States 
of America (Cleveland, 1920), p. 98, 

22 Cratty, Mabel. Interpretation of the Biennial Report of 
the National Board, Report of the Fourth National Convex 
tion of the Young Women's Christian Associations of the< 
Uwted States of America (Richmond, 1913), pp. 13-15. 

23 Cratty, Mabel. Address* Report of the Fifth National 
Convention of the Young Women's Christian Associations of 
the United States of America (Los Angeles, 1915), pp. 20-23. 

24 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Sixth National Convention (Cleveland, 1920), p. 93, 

94 



CHAPTER V 

Religion and the Young Women's Christian 
Association 

THE Young Women's Christian Association, as one of 
the social institutions related to the church and with 
its own Christian purpose, has been confronted again and 
again with the conflict between tradition and the growth of 
new ideas. Because of the hold that tradition has on re- 
ligion, it is not strange that such conflict should have struck 
more directly at the roots of this organization than in the 
case of a secular agency. 

These crises have centered about the form and wording 
of the so-called basis of membership, that is, the test for 
determining voting power and office-holding in the mem- 
bership. In the description which follows it is clear that 
change itself was feared, so strong was the feeling of 
loyalty to the past, and that this fear made it difficult to 
judge any proposals for alteration on their merits alone. 
The fact that the Young Women's Christian Association 
is very largely a movement of young people made inevit- 
able the recurrent upspringing of new ideas or at least the 
attempt to phrase the old in the terminology of the day. 

In the year 1858, the year in which the first Young 
Women's Christian Association in the United States was 
organized in New York City under the name of the "La- 
dies' Christian Association," a widespread religious revival, 
overstepping denominational lines, began. The Schaf- 

95 



History of a Social Institution 



Herxog Encyclopaedia of Religious "Knowledge makes the 
following statement in regard to this revival: 

Very marked, also, was the wave of spiritual grace, that, 
beginning in the city of New York early in 1858, shortly 
after a season of widespread bankruptcy, spread from city 
to city, and town to town, all over the United States, until, 
within a single year, nearly half a million of converts had 
been received into the churches. It was confined to no 
denomination, no section and no one class, in the com- 
munities where it prevailed. It was a great and wonderful 
revival. 1 

In speaking of this same revival, Miss Elizabeth Wilson 
in Fifty Years of Association Work Among Young 
Women points out not only that there was a great spirit 
of unity among Christians of different denominations- 
referring here to Protestant churches but also that there 
was outstanding leadership of women at this particular 
time, and that one of the principal methods of revival was 
that of prayer circles. 

The period was favorable to the formation of a lay re- 
ligious organization unconfined by denominational lines. 
Added to that was the fact that young women were leaving 
their homes in town and country and going to cities to work 
in factories, thus creating a social problem which had never 
before been present. The invention of various machines 
for help in housework, such as the sewing machine and the 
egg beater, was also giving women homemakers more 
opportunity for freedom from household cares. We find 
converging, therefore, a combination of motive, need and 
opportunity for self-expression of the more privileged 
group of women. 

From early records it is apparent that the religious life 



Religion and the Association 



of the newly organized Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation tended to run in narrow grooves. There is frequent 
record of Bible study classes, of daily prayers in the board- 
ing homes, of church attendance not only on Sundays but 
at weekday prayer meetings. In those early reports the 
test of the varied programs of the Association programs 
of recreation, of housing, of educational classes was 
largely in terms of how many of the girls thus reached be- 
came members of churches or could be reckoned as "con- 
versions." A historian of that period points out that the 
life of the frontier, as well as American puritanism, was 
narrow and that these two strong influences in the life of 
this country made for a limited and intolerant spiritual 
life. 2 Limited it was in the Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation, but intolerance does not appear. 

The beginning of interest in the "female operative 
classes" was attributed to those revivals of 1857 an d I ^58 
and this interest was in the early eighties stated as the 
primary motive in the organizing of the first Association, 
the Ladies' Christian Association, in New York City. 3 
There were many attempts to work out a religious pro- 
gram that expressed a way of life based on the prin- 
ciples and teachings of Jesus. There was much groping 
after methods of expression j noon meetings in factories 
on weekdays and vesper services on Sundays, all of 
them accompanied by direct personal counsel, were the 
favorites. The religious meetings and the other activ- 
ities of the Association were considered supplementary to 
the work of the churches, and the girls in the Bible classes 
at the Association were the same ones to be found in the 
Sunday schools. 

There seems to have been relatively little change in 
these methods of religious education for nearly fifty years. 

97 



History of a Social Institution 



As late as 1905 it is reported: "That every Young Wom- 
en's Christian Association shall have a gospel meeting or 
vesper service on Sunday afternoon is an accepted fact." 4 
The question of church relationships was continuously im- 
portant. Early records show that the Young Women's 
Christian Association for many years tended to be closely 
related to the Protestant evangelical churches. Its leader- 
ship was drawn almost exclusively from the active mem- 
bership of such churches, and the favorite, almost the only, 
speakers at meetings from outside the organization were 
members of the clergy. It should be remembered that the 
various churches, with some differences between denomi- 
nations, had given little opportunity to women for direct 
religious leadership, even though in 1852 Antoinette 
Brown Blackwell had been ordained a regular clergyman 
of the Congregational Church at South Butler, New York. 5 
The Ladies' Aid responsibility for chicken-pie suppers and 
for furnishing the parsonage another phase of "woman's 
place is in the home" related to church work was con- 
sidered their field of action. 

Repeated statements are made in the various state and 
national convention reports as well as in articles, of the 
relation of the Association to the church. Such quotations 
as the following appear in the records of the early nine- 
ties: 

So long as there are young women who are not saved, 
and so long as the church itself does not put forth stronger 
efforts to reach them, so long will the Y.W.C.A. be neces- 
sary, so long will it find a place in the world. 6 

Now may we not look on the Young Women's Christian 
Association, though not apparently under the government 
of the church, as one of the departments of its work? This 



Religion and the Association 



is surely the right view of it, and immediately dissipates any 
idea of antagonism between the two. The Association is, in 
a sense, a committee of the church, using certain well- 
defined methods to bring young women into the fold of 
Christ. 7 

The Young Women's Christian Association is an in- 
estimable blessing not only to a city, but to every local 
church and pastor in that city. It is an example of re- 
deemed and sanctified womanhood in quest of human souls. 
Such a spectacle in any community is an impetus in Chris- 
tian endeavor. 8 

How is the Y.W.C.A. a needed help in the church? 
Especially, it seems to me, in two directions: First, as a 
feeder to the church membership. The Associations in col- 
leges and cities have opportunities for touching thousands 
of girls whom the church does not, and in many cases can- 
not, reach. 9 

The Young Women's Christian Association is a holy and 
elect handmaiden of the church, designed of God to aid 
that institution in the salvation of young women. The 
entire life of the Association is an expanding and enlarg- 
ing opportunity for the propagation of the divine principles 
which constitute the essence and inspiration of the church's 
activities. 10 

Some of these quotations imply a slight criticism of the 
church in that it is not reaching young women in large 
enough numbers, or that it does not provide sufficient op- 
portunities for them to share in its responsibilities. 

In 1894, the magazine called the Evangel ', published 
by the American Committee, apparently went to consid- 
erable trouble to collect statements from various ministers 
in regard to the Young Women's Christian Association. 11 

99 



History of a Social 



Although the article does not say so, from the content it 
seems certain that the testimonials were solicited for this 
particular use and consequently, as is to be expected, are 
of a laudatory nature. They refer to the Association in 
such terms as, "It is doing a most blessed work in build- 
ing the young women into the likeness of Christ"; it 
"meets so tenderly and beautifully a great want in its 
Christian thought of and care over young women without 
homes." Another says that "it is a great factor for right- 
eous and aggressive Christianity." Another, that "there is 
not a single reason for the existence of a Christian Asso- 
ciation for young men which does not exist with equal or 
greater force for such an organization for young women. 
If young women are less inclined to evil than the young 
men, they are more helpless and more pursued by tempta- 
tion, and need not less but more of Christian care." Mak- 
ing due allowance for the purpose for which these quota- 
tions were secured, it nevertheless seems evident that many 
of the well-known clergy of the various Protestant churches 
at that time knew something of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association and were sufficiently in sympathy with its 
aims and purposes to be willing to make statements over 
their signatures in regard to its work. 

It seems also evident, from the precise wording of many 
of the statements from the leaders of the Young Women's 
Christian Association themselves, that they were careful 
not to imply any organizational relationship to the church. 
The word "handmaiden" is frequently used, and in a 
number of instances definite statements are made that there 
is no organizational relationship. 

In the years between the forming of the second national 
organization the American Committee in 1886, and 
the coming together of the two organizations the Inter- 
100 



Religion and the Association 



national Board and the American Committee in 1906, 
the differences of opinion that arose are entirely differences 
in point of view about the necessity or lack of necessity 
for precise theological commitments for leaders in the 
Association and for the local Associations themselves, cor- 
porately. The American Committee, greatly influenced by 
the Young Men's Christian Association and made up 
largely of students, though with some strong city Associa- 
tions, stood out for a religious test that was rigid and theo- 
logical in character. This test stated that an Association 
wishing to be a member of the national organization must 
limit its voting and office-holding membership "to young 
women who are members in good standing in evangelical 
churches," and that "we hold those churches to be evangel- 
ical which, maintaining the Holy Scriptures to be the only 
infallible rule of faith and practice, do believe in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, King 
of Kings and Lord of Lords, in whom dwelleth the full- 
ness of the Godhead bodily, and who was made sin for us, 
though knowing no sin, bearing our sins in his own body 
on the tree, as the only name under heaven given among 
men whereby we must be saved from everlasting punish- 
ment." 12 

This definite statement is in contrast to the requirement 
of the International Board, which was: "All Women's 
Christian Associations, or organizations doing the work o 
such Associations, shall be entitled to representation in the 
conference," 13 Its general statements, appearing in reports 
of speeches made at conventions, statements as to the pur- 
pose of the organization and recorded in the minutes, all 
show in the conventional phrasing of the evangelical piety 
of the last century the orthodox and deeply spiritual point 
of view of the leaders in the International Board. Such 

101 



Hisfory of a 



sentiments as the following appear frequently: "If each 
Christian woman would sincerely and honestly do what 
she can for the cause of Christ, how grandly that cause 
might prosper! what results might be attained!" 14 This 
group of the International Board assumed within the As- 
sociation a certain homogeneity from the fact that women 
were willing and desirous of working together for Chris- 
tian ends, and they disliked the idea of precise consti- 
tutional statements. 

On the other hand, during all those twenty years there 
are constant indications, on both sides, of uneasiness at the 
existence of two national organizations with practically 
the same name and admittedly the same purposes. Their 
anxiety is referred in many instances to their feeling that 
such a state of affairs is "unchristian." They also point out, 
however, the sources of weakness in separation and the fact 
that each organization has much to contribute to the other. 

After a long period of negotiation, extending over at 
least ten years and not unaccompanied by acrimony, the 
two organizations did vote during the year 1906 to dis- 
band and to reorganize as one new national organization. 
The International Board, in reporting the conference of 
1905 at which their vote to disband their organization and 
form a new one was taken, makes the following statement: 
"The main disadvantage from the standpoint of the In- 
ternational Board is: That the International Board gives 
up its loyally held and much-loved liberty of basis, which 
it truly believes to be nearer to Christ's teachings." 15 

The joint committee that worked on the final details of 
the coming together of the organizations listed the ad- 
vantages and the disadvantages, with the conclusion that 
the advantages far outweighed the disadvantages. The 
advantages circled chiefly around the greater strength of a 

102 



Religion and the Association 



united movement 5 the disadvantages around the conces- 
sions made in regard to the religious basis. The concession 
made by the American Committee was that local Associ- 
ations already in affiliation with the International Board 
should be accepted on whatever basis they were already 
organized, without regard to the new national require- 
ments. The concession made by the International Board 
was that from the time of the forming of the new national 
organization, with one year of grace allowed, no Associ- 
ations would be admitted into membership that did not 
conform to the test of limiting their voting and office- 
holding membership to those members of the Association 
who were members of Protestant evangelical churches. It 
is interesting to note that the more liberal group, the 
International Board, made by far the greater concession 
to unity, a concession that did not solve the problem but 
did bring into the one national movement widely differ- 
ing viewpoints on how best to conserve the Christian char- 
acter of the organization. By some of the women who 
lived through these difficult days of controversy and com- 
promise, special credit for the happy outcome is given to 
the forward-looking and earnest leadership of the Brooklyn 
Association. 

The new national organization started out with the def- 
inite intention of emphasizing in all its work the religious 
purpose and program of the Association. One of the main 
channels for carrying out this intention was the curriculurn 
of the newly organized National Training School. Grace 
Wilson in an article in the Womans Press for December 
1932, called "Rooted in Religion," writes as follows: 

Bible study, especially the study of the New Testament, 
was considered fundamental because through it one came 

103 



History of Social 



into a knowledge of Jesus Christ and an allegiance to Him 
as Saviour and Lord, Bible study was not an end in itself, 
however, but a means to an end s "the end of bringing 
young women into vital touch with Jesus Christ." So im- 
portant was it considered that in 1907 a religidus work 
secretary especially prepared In the study of biblical litera- 
ture was added to the staff, and a few years later systematic 
Bible study with National Board certificates was intro- 
duced. 16 

Certainly the interest in directly religious programs in 
the local Associations remained unabated. Bible classes and 
mission study classes are reported by nearly all the Asso- 
ciations. The programs of the ten-day summer conferences, 
planned and carried out by the national organization in 
various sections of the country, were distinctly religious, 
in fact evangelical in character. The greater part of the 
program consisted of platform speeches on the philosophy 
of religion, essentials of the Christian faith, various phases 
of biblical history and similar topics. This was accom- 
panied by Bible study classes and study of the mission pro- 
grams of the churches. 

Early in Its history the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation became as an organization interested in missionary 
work, an interest which has been continuous ever since. 
Not only were the leaders, many of them, the same women 
who had active part in the foreign missionary societies of 
the churches, but their enthusiasm for their own newly 
formed organization led them to wish to extend to other 
countries this particular form of Christian service for 
women. This is another example of the close relation be- 
tween the developing program of the Association and the 
program of the churches. 

The Young Women's Christian Association has had a 
104 



Religion and the Association 



tradition of pioneering, over the years. At certain points 
this pioneering spirit has been applied to religion as well 
as to other parts of its program. It is markedly evident in 
the attitude taken by the new national organization toward 
historical criticism of the Bible, Through its choice of fac- 
ulty and the courses given at its training school the new 
national organization stood for and disseminated through 
its training school graduates all over the country a con- 
structive attitude toward and intelligent use of historical 
biblical criticism. In the opinion of one of the early teachers 
in the training school, this has been one of the most signifi- 
cant contributions of the Association to the religious life 
of this country. 

Miss Wilson makes the following comment in her same 
article, "Rooted in Religion," on the developing point of 
view of the Association in religious teaching: 

The whole approach shows a trend away from the doc- 
trinal to an appreciation of the personality of Jesus and the 
significance of his life and teaching for practical living. 
Bible study helps make possible the "abundant life," but 
the abundant life is social as well as individual. Jesus is a 
"way of life" as well as a "way of salvation." There came 
a new interest in the historic Jesus, and with it a shift from 
the authority of the Bible to the authority of Jesus. 

The early years of the new national organization were 
coincident with the growth of interest in social Christian- 
ity, often referred to as the social awakening. Referring 
to this period, Charlotte Adams, of the national staff, in 
an article on the underlying philosophy of the Young 
Women's Christian Association, writes: 

It was the period of the great social awakening when the 
responsibility of Christians for a more Christian social order 

105 



History of a Socml 



was proclaimed as an evangel. This developed Into a cru- 
sade with its prophets and saints, among whom were some 
of our own number. The glow of the older evangelical 
flame was lighted anew, and in those early years there 
seemed to be the promise of the dawn of a fairer world by 
the arousing of Christians to the supreme task of devoting 
themselves to the application of the principles of Jesus to an 
iniquitous social order, thus helping to make the will of 
God more effective in human society. 17 

That the Association leadership seized eagerly on the 
content of the social gospel as preached by men like Walter 
Rauschenbusch is not surprising. Even in its earliest years 
the Association leaders had applied their idea of Christian 
teaching to the humblest tasks and the most practical pro- 
grams of the organization, whether it was housing girls 
or vesper services or finding jobs. Their reason for so doing 
was rooted in their conviction of the value of personality 
and the responsibility of the more favored for the less. 
The form which this social religious philosophy took in 
the Association may be described as a desire to bring jthe 

Christian point of view into everything the Association 
stands for in a community, to infuse into all programs and 
activities the contagion of the wholeness of the Christian 
ideal of life, to demonstrate the inescapable connection be- 
tween religious ideals and daily practices, and to bring to 
bear upon the social order the compelling demands of a 
socialized Christian conscience. This is emphasized because 
it is a fundamental point of view of the Association in Amer- 
ica, something which is indigenous to the life of American 
Christianity. But in stressing this social expression of the As- 
sociation's philosophy, because it is so characteristic of us 
generally, it is not to be assumed that this is all there is to 
it, for there is another side which, while not so obvious, is 

106 



Religion the Association 



present nevertheless in our work. This is a concern for the 
individual girl as a person, who needs the help the Associa- 
tion can give her. Over and over again girls bear witness 
to this help and say that it is not to be found to the same 
degree anywhere else. Their home and work problems, their 
personal adjustment to life, their questions about religion 
are met and in some degree handled by the Association with 
increasing skill. 17 

This emphasis of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation on social Christianity was closely related to the 
awakening conscience of the country in regard to the effects 
of the industrial order on individuals and the responsibility 
of the more privileged for the less. 

While theology was being forced to reform its verbal 
modes under the stimulus of science and secular philosophy, 
Christian ethics had to reckon with the thundering facts of 
the new economic order and with all the varieties of social 
thinking thrown up so profusely in the conflict of capital 
and labor. 

In opening Hull House amid the dreary industrial wastes 
of Chicago in 1889, J ane Addams likewise ascribed no small 
part of her initiative in the enterprise to "the impulse to 
share the lives of the poor, the desire to make social service, 
irrespective of propaganda, express the spirit of Christ an 
impulse as old as Christianity itself." 

Whatever the dominant force behind this effort to cross 
the social divide, it exerted, beyond all question, a direct 
and immediate influence on American thinking about indus- 
trial questions and on the course of social practice. 18 

Such stimulus to social thinking 3 which came particu- 
larly from the colleges and universities, inevitably affected 
the Young Women's Christian Association, drawing, as 

107 



History of a Social 



it did, the greater part of its employed leadership from 
young college and university graduates. 

Meanwhile, along with this great interest in the applica- 
tion of the Christian ideal of life to social questions and 
the careful and constructive work of the training school in 
preparing its professional leadership to be teachers of the 
Bible, was the growing strength of the world's work of 
the Young Women's Christian Association. This World's 
Association and the World's Student Christian Federa- 
tion with which the student section of the Young Women's 
Christian Association is united are both ecumenical in char- 
acter and not limited to the so-called Protestant churches. 
The influence of the world point of view, together with 
the differences of opinion within the organization itself 
evident at the time of the forming of the new national 
organization and by no means dispelled, brought up anew 
the question of constitutional requirements for voting and 
office-holding membership. 

This may seem a technicality without importance in 
view of the fact that even in the early days it was rare for 
an Association to limit the privileges of its programs and 
its activities in any way to any particular group. Neverthe- 
less, in an organization such as the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association, membership-participating in character 
at least theoretically, and holding to democratic ideals of 
organization, any such restriction was an irritation to 
those who saw it as artificial and limiting. The attitude 
toward democracy in the Association was assuming greater 
reality. While from its earliest years the Association was, 
as has been said, theoretically membership-participating 
that is, final authority rested in the voting membership, 
and the board of directors, elected by those members, held 
delegated power only, for the management of the affairs 

108 



Religion and the Association 



of the Association practically speaking, in many com- 
munities this board of directors was nearly if not quite 
self-perpetuating, and the privilege of voting was almost 
completely ignored or forgotten. 

In many places part of the difficulty quite evidently grew 
out of the artificiality of the so-called church membership 
basis. Voting membership was determined entirely by 
membership in churches in or eligible to the Federal Coun- 
cil of the Churches of Christ in America, rather than by any 
test of belief in the purpose of the Association itself. The 
differences developing between church bodies, the organi- 
zation of community churches that were of no particular 
denomination, and the increasing number of foreign-born 
girls and women in this country who were members of 
churches not eligible to the Federal Council made the 
question of differentiation between voting and non-voting 
members difficult. Chiefly this difficulty was met by ignor- 
ing it and either allowing everyone who happened to be 
at the annual meeting to vote by acclamation or by having 
a very quiet election in the morning with hardly anyone 
besides the board o directors itself voting. This was in 
the days before women had received the suffrage in this 
country and, moreover, when the trend toward self-gov- 
ernment was much less important and less active. 

At the national convention in Los Angeles in 1915 a 
recommendation for a change in basis for student Associ- 
ations was brought in by a national commission which had 
been appointed to study this matter. This recommendation 
provided for any student Associations desiring it an alter- 
nate "personal" basis 5 that is, it substituted for the re- 
quirement of church membership a statement of personal 
commitment to the purpose of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association. After prolonged discussion this recom- 

109 



Hssfory of a Social 



mendation was passed.* As the national constitution at 
that time provided that changes in membership bases must 
be presented to and approved by two successive conven- 
tions, this method of administering membership could not 
be put into effect until passed by another convention. In 
the meantime came the World War. 

This action of the convention, so brief to report, was 
indeed a significant one. To some it seemed to sever all 
connection of the student Associations with the church and 
to be the entering wedge for what they feared would be- 
come the practice of the whole Association. It was the old 
conflict between the conservators of the past and the in- 
heritors of the future. 

It is interesting to note that this first request for a 
change in basis came from the student Associations, the 
very group which in 1886 had insisted on forming a sep- 
arate national organization because the existing national 
organization would not accept the limited basis. It should, 
however, be noted that the 1886 group of students was 
made up almost entirely of students from the middle west 
of the United States, a section more conservative in its 
religious expressions than the east. 

Certainly the change from the strictly church basis was 
in many ways a momentous one. The clergy was invoked 
on both sides of the question and letters and statements 
were presented from those who appreciated the point of 
view of the student group in the Association and those who 
feared that the soul of the movement would be destroyed. 
The opposition of the conservative group was taken with 
great seriousness, yet the confirming vote at the convention 
in 1920, at the second reading, as then required, of the 
new student basis, was an overwhelming one. Many of 

* See Appendix for full statement of this new purpose. 
IIO 



Religion and the Association 



the older leaders, believing that the students should have 
freedom for their own development, did not by their votes 
oppose the student group, although they were deeply dis- 
turbed about the future of the organization. 

It is rather curious, in view of the emphasis of Protes- 
tantism on the Bible as authority, that there should have 
been this extreme concern over giving up the use of the 
church as a middleman in determining the personal com- 
mitment of the leaders of the organization to the essentials 
of the Christian faith. In any case, this new personal basis 
was for student Associations only and was a permissive, 
not a compulsory one. Those Associations which still de- 
sired to do so could keep the constitutional form requiring 
church membership of its leaders. Changes had come in 
the United States in the years previous to this action of 
the 1920 convention. Tradition had lost much of its hold 
and the validity of the desire of youth for its own method 
of self-expression had gained recognition and influence. 

From the reports made to conventions by the National 
Board in the early nineteen-twenties it seems evident that 
the lack of religious education programs in the local Asso- 
ciations after the war was a matter of concern to the na- 
tional leadership. The question of promoting vesper ser- 
vices, which local churches took to be in direct competition 
to their own meetings, is mentioned several times. The 
gap between the religious thinking of the older and the 
younger generations was also a matter of concern, while in 
the cities the emphasis, following the war years, on the 
Young Women's Christian Association as a direct service 
organization to girls and women tended to minimize its 
emphasis on religious education as such. In reporting on 

in 



History of a Social Institution 



the situation in towns in 1924 the following statement ap- 
pears: 

The religious situation in towns is not a happy one. 
When extremes of thought, belief, doctrine and teaching 
come together In a small area a universal problem is highly 
intensified. Can the Association hope to be an educational 
force In such a situation? Religious life as expressed in 
many town churches is making its greater appeal to the 
older generation. In some sections this appeal is at direct 
variance with the progressive spirit of the schools, so that 
young people are finding themselves out of harmony with 
the church life. 19 

In 1920, the report on work in rural areas states that there 
is almost a no religious training of leaders, no program for 
isolated individuals, and that few girls had joined the 
church as a result of Association work, most of those 
reached having been church members already and many 
of them church workers. 5520 

At the same time that there was a distinct falling off 
in Bible study classes, in mission study classes, in vesper 
services, and in other direct forms of religious education, 
there was coming an attempt to make the Association cor- 
porately a Christian woman movement in the community. 
The following statement appears in the same report for 
1920: 

It is time for the city Association to make effective socially 
the Christianity of its individual members. Its religious work 
bears an integral relation to Its industrial and other special 
programs. The city Association has a real contribution to 
make not only in the development of Individual character 
but also in the development of a Christian social conscience. 

112 



Religion and the Association 



This social expression of Christianity was more difficult 
to make clear to the general public and to the Association 
itself than the conventional listing of Bible study classes^ 
vespers and noonday meetings. Consequently the leader- 
ship frequently took refuge in the statement that the total 
program was religious and different in quality because of 
that fact. This generalization seems to have satisfied no 
one. 

Meanwhile the national organization apparently felt it 
important to reword its convictions in regard to the Chris- 
tian faith. The following statement appears in the report 
for 1922: 

In presenting this report, the National Board desires to 
reaffirm its confidence in the foundations of the national 
organization 

In Its Affirmation of the Christian faith in God, the 
Father ; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord and 
Saviour; and in the Holy Spirit, the Revealer of truth and 
Source of power for life and service according to the teach- 
ing of Holy Scripture and the witness of the Church. 

In Its Purpose to impel women everywhere to become 
followers of Jesus Christ; to hasten the coming of the 
Kingdom of God on earth. 

In Its Instrument, the Association a voluntary, self- 
directed organization, local, national, world; in which 
women may associate themselves and their service, thus ever 
increasing the amount of life tjiey live in common. 

In Its Special Relation to the Christian Church through 
its identification of interest with that great body of com- 
munions which have associated themselves in the Federal 
Council of Churches of Christ in America. 21 

In 1924 the commission requested by the convention 
in 1920 to study the personal basis of membership in Asso- 



History of a Social Institution 



ciations other than student, made its report, recommending 
a personal basis for those Associations which wished to use 
it. After a long discussion on the floor of the convention 
and the registering of distinct differences of opinion, the 
vote was taken and the recommendations accepted. At the 
convention in Milwaukee in 19263 for the second time 
and with much less opposition and discussion, they were 
approved and became effective.* 

It was evident that the question of changing the basis 
of membership was to be a continuing one. At this same 
convention the student Associations asked for the privilege 
of rewording their basis which had been approved in 1920. 
Fortunately, by this time the national constitution had 
been so amended that by the vote of one convention such 
a change could be made. A new student personal basis was 
adopted at the 1928 convention * and immediately put 
into effect. In 1934, following a request made at the con- 
vention of 1930, a new personal basis was adopted for 
Associations other than student* 

As the personal bases were changed, the desire for 
simplicity and for non-theological language became evi- 
dent. The first so-called personal bases adopted were highly 
theological in wording, and in the case of Associations 
other than student required that three-fourths of the boards 
of directors and officers should be members of Protestant 
evangelical churches. In the opinion of the leaders of the 
organization such a provision, definitely a compromise, was 
necessary in order to preserve the unity of the national 
movement. Threats of withdrawal on the part of the local 
Associations were repeatedly made. As a matter of fact, 
these threats were in no instance put into effect. During 
this time there was criticism of the vagueness of the Asso- 

* See Appendix for complete wording of this basis. 

114 



Religion and the Association 



ciatlon in regard to matters of religion. Why the u G y was 
not eliminated from the name seemed to be a favorite 
remark of those particularly critical, and the lack of tan- 
gible data in terms of numbers of girls who had become 
church members and were studying in Bible classes ap- 
peared to give anxiety to certain groups within the Associ- 
ation and, even more, to groups outside the Association. 
It is interesting and curious to note that constitutionally 
there has never been any requirement made of the em- 
ployed staff either as to church membership or as to 
Association membership. From time to time the National 
Board has itself suggested certain standards, but they have 
not been constitutionally required. 

Meanwhile, however, the Association was endeavoring 
to find a new way of approach to religion in terms of 
modern life. There was an emphasis on the corporate 
expression of religious ideals in community living which 
raised questions of responsibility in industrial, interracial 
and international questions. The matter of church < rela- 
tionships was ever uppermost. There seems no record of 
the Young Women's Christian Association's taking any 
position about the leadership of women in the church, and 
to its discussions and on its platforms it welcomed equally 
the proponents of women as members of the clergy, such 
as Maude Royden of London, and of those women of 
whom Evelyn Underhill of England is probably the best 
example, who stand for and exemplify the place of women 
in Christian leadership other than as ordained clergy. In 
personal conversation it has been repeatedly said that those 
women who did not find satisfactory self-expression in the 
housekeeping activities of the church found within the 
Young Women's Christian Association an opportunity for 

1*5 



History of a Social Institution 



constructive religious leadership which made for satisfac- 
tions in their own personal religious life. 

With the changing character of the population of this 
country the increase in numbers of Roman Catholics in the 
big industrial centers brought up inevitably the relation of 
the Young Women's Christian Association to the Roman 
Catholic Church. With rare exceptions the facilities, pro- 
grams and activities of local Young Women's Christian 
Associations were from the beginning open to women and 
girls regardless of creed or church relationship. In the 
early days there were one or two Associations that would 
not take Roman Catholic girls into their boarding homes. 
So far as it is possible to discover from the records, there 
has been for twenty years or more no such restriction in 
any community. There has been constitutionally, until 
very recent days, a limiting of voting and office-holding 
power to those members of the Association who were 
members of Protestant evangelical churches. 

It is not easy to ascertain the religious affiliation of all 
those who use the facilities of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association. From certain records kept nationally, 
such as the record of the church affiliation of attendance 
at national conferences, it appears that in recent years, that 
is, from the nineteen-twenties on, in certain of the indus- 
trial conferences, particularly in the northeast section of 
the country, it is a usual occurrence to have a large propor- 
tion of those present of other than the Protestant faith. 22 
The World's Young Women's Christian Association, in its 
constitution, after a careful statement of basis and aim in 
theological terms gives as a principle that "the World's 
Young Women's Christian Association desires to be repre- 
sentative of all sections of the Christian Church in so far 

116 



Religion and the Association 



as they accept the basis.* This basis is definitely a trini- 
tarian evangelical one and not Protestant. It seems ap- 
parent, from conversation with individual men and women 
in this country, that the general conception of the Young 
Women's Christian Association is of a Protestant agency, 
and that even the fact of its long policy of not restricting 
its program and activities is not understood an example of 
the fact that Christianity crystallizes in the shape of the 
creed or doctrine of some particular church, and a lay 
organization definitely Christian in its principles and aims 
but non-sectarian in character works from a viewpoint diffi- 
cult to maintain and to make clear. 

The national organization in the years between 1906 and 
1916 placed great emphasis on training for religious lead- 
ership in its National Training School. Since that time a 
survey of the curricula of its seminars and training insti- 
tutes would seem to indicate that the emphasis was turn- 
ing to sociology, principles of social work, educational 
method, and the techniques of Association work itself 
rather than to religious leadership. On the other hand, it 
is evident, down the years, that the point of reference for 
new pieces of program, for taking part in so-called contro- 
versial issues, was repeatedly the reference of the Chris- 
tian aith. The national organization in its reports, par- 
ticularly to the conventions, is continually making state- 
ments about the Young Women's Christian Association as 
a religious organization, such statements as: "The Asso- 
ciation today is challenged to a new religious advance." 23 
"The program . . . calls for a reaffirmation and reinter- 
pretation of the Christian philosophy of life in the fields 

* See Appendix for complete wording of the World's Young Women's 
Christian Association basis and aim. 

117 



History of a Social Institution 



which this program emphasizes health^ work, family and 
sex relationships, citizenship/ 5 . . . "The quarter of a cen- 
tury of the life of the national Y.W.CA. which has just 
closed has seen a movement of young women, rooted in 
the evangelical faith in the power of the living God made 
known through Jesus Christ to save and recreate human 
life, come to grips with the problems of our present eco- 
nomic society." 24 

At the 1930 convention the following program of faith 
and works was adopted for the coming biennium: 

1. An endeavor to achieve clarity of thought and expression 
for our growing experience of God; 

2. A continuing search for a deeper understanding of Jesus; 

3. A thoughtful scrutiny of our Association practices and 
relationships in order to bring them into closer con- 
formity to the law of love, and a more adequate recog- 
nition of the supreme value of human personality; 

4. An effort to realize an ever-enlarging and ever more 
inclusive fellowship among women; 

5. A giving of ourselves anew to help in the task of estab- 
lishing righteousness upon earth. 25 

It does not appear in the report to the next convention 
that any direct endeavor was made to carry out those 
points. 

Grace Wilson in her book, Religious and Educational 
Philosophy of the Young Wometfs Christian Association, 
points out that in her opinion the various changes that 
have come in program and in statement of purpose have 
not affected the fundamental purpose of the Association 
itself. She says; 

New factors, bringing with them new responsibilities, 
entered into the social situation. . . * The achievement of 



Religion the Association 



"fullness of life and development of character" necessitated 
a new understanding of psychological laws. The concep- 
tion of religion, through which this fullness of life comes, 
had been changed. Yet it was fullness of life as it was found 
in Jesus Christ; and the Kingdom of God was that kingdom 
on earth of which Jesus talked. 26 

The emphasis on social Christianity was growing and 
constant. The steps that were taken in the fulfillment of 
the attempt to make real in the life of women and girls 
Christian ideals and principles are stated in detail in a 
later chapter. In the four years between 1930 and 1934, 
it is evident from the utterances of national leaders and 
articles appearing in the Womans Press magazine, that 
there was at least a desire to turn to an emphasis on the 
spiritual life of the individual as well as to continue to 
function in the realm of social Christianity. As one reads 
the records of meetings and speeches over the years, as 
well as actions of national conventions, there is apparent 
a strong cohesive power and a dynamic in the religious 
purpose of the organization, spread thin in places and ex- 
pressed in the conventional terms of evangelical Chris- 
tianity, but, to judge from its effects, real and powerful. 

If one is attempting to weigh the reality of the religious 
life of the Young Women's Christian Association, per- 
haps one of the places to look is in the lives of some of its 
most prominent leaders. To mention only four, who are 
no longer living, there have been: Grace Hoadley Dodge, 27 
the first president of the new National Board formed in 
19065 Mabel Cratty, 28 general secretary of the National 
Board from 1906 to 19285 Florence Simms, 29 a member of 
the staff of the National Board from 1 906 until her death 
in 1925, and the leader in Association work with industrial 

119 



Histary of a Social Institution 



girls 5 Clarissa H. Spencer/ a member at different times 
of the staff of the National Board and for ten years gen- 
eral secretary of the World's Young Women's Christian 
Association. These four, as well as countless others, showed 
in their lives and words not only commitment to the prac- 
tical working out of Christian ideals of life but supreme 
devotion to God as revealed through Jesus Christ. 

The way in which Miss Cratty summarized the re- 
port of the National Board to the 1928 convention only 
a few weeks before her death expresses dearly the prob- 
lem which the organization faces in its attempts to be for 
this generation and this age a vital corporate expression of 
Christianity: 

The status of "the Association as a religious institution" is 
another major issue which the National Board asks the con- 
vention to consider. Is the modern Young Woman's Chris- 
tian Association religious? It is a hard question, and not to 
be answered by pointing to Bible classes and numbers of 
girls and women in them, and certainly not by saying de- 
fensively that everything we do is religious. In general, 
younger members of the Association seem to be more articu- 
late religiously than the older members. Why is the question 
asked often enough to make it impossible to disregard it? 
Is it that the Associations have, many of them, been spend- 
ing so great a part of their time with buildings and large 
service programs, and consequent preoccupation with their 
administration, that the other functions of the Associations 
have had less exercise? Or are the Associations expressing 
themselves religiously in ways different, less formal, less con- 
ventional? Or is the Association simply having its share of 
the effect of the sharpening of the division between funda- 
mentalist and modernist? It is very clear that there is a 

1 2O 



Religion and the Association 



sense of need, of discontent, a desire for a more adequate 
definition of our purpose in terms of its religious significance. 
In another section of the report this is set forth at some 
length, and references in the reports of every department 
show that it is common to all membership groups. 

The final and really important question for the Associa- 
tion is what it is thinking of Jesus, how consciously it is 
following Him. Are its buildings visible expressions of the 
love of Christ, available to those who need them most? 
Are its programs his visitations to the colleges, cities, towns 
and hamlets of our beloved young nation and out to the 
uttermost parts of the world to which the Association has 
gone? 22 

The development of the Young Women's Christian 
Association in its religious thinking and expression brings 
out certain social concepts. 

From early years the autonomy of the local Association 
and the advisory character of the national organization 
had been recognized. The only control exercised by the 
national organization was that of eligibility to affiliation, 
with itself, and that eligibility, according to the national 
constitution, was stated exclusively in terms of the basis o 
membership, that is, the test for determining voting power 
and office-holding in the membership. 

With the growing prestige of the national organization 
this power was considerable, and local Associations were 
loath to withdraw, even to insure freedom for them- 
selves. The adoption, one after another, of a series of al- 
ternate bases for membership for inclusion in the national 
constitution was a definite victory far local autonomy and 
placed on the national organization the necessity for greater 
differentiation in the treatment of local Associations. 

121 



History of a Social Institution 



SOURCES 

1 Schaff-Herxog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge, 
1 883 edition, Vol. Ill, article "Revivals of Religion," p. 2040. 

2 Adams, James Traslow. The Efa of America (New 
York: Little Brown & Company, 1931), p. 125. 

8 Willard, Mrs. Mary E. "Historical Sketch of the Ladies 5 
Christian Union Homes," Faith and Works y VII (May, 
1882), pp. 130-131. 

4 Field, Frances E. "The Sunday Vesper Service/' Evangel, 
XVII (December, 1905), pp. 20-21. 

5 Irwm, Inez Haynes. Angels and Amazons (New York: 
Doubleday Doran & Company, 1933), pp. 58-59. 

6 Westrater, Minnie. "The Relation of the Young Wo- 
men's Christian Association to the Church," Minutes of the 
Fifth Annual State Convention of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association of Michigan (1889), pp. 16-19. 

7 Editorial "The Church and the Y.W.C.A.," Evangel, 
III (December, 1890), p. 10. 

8 Partridge, Rev. Warren G. "The Claim of the Church 
on the Association," Evangel^ IV (March, 1892), pp. 2-3. 

9 Blatchford, Miss F. ML "The Y.W.C.A. a Needed Help 
in the Home and in the Church," Proceedings of the Eighth 
Annual State Convention of the Young Women*s Christian 
Associations of Nebraska (1892), pp. 22-24. 

10 DeBlois, Rev. Austen K. "The Opportunity of the Asso- 
ciation to Maintain the Fundamental Principles of the Christian 
Church," Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Convention of the 
American Committee (Detroit, 1905), pp. 70-74. 

11 Article "As Others See Us," Evangel, VI (May, 
1894), pp. 17-19. 

12 Proceedings of First National Convention- of Young 
Warner? s Christian Associations (Lake Geneva, Wis., 1886), 
p. 8. 

18 Refort of the Sixth International Conference of Women*$ 
Christian Associations of the United States and the British 
Provinces (St. Louis, 1881), p. 19. 

122 



Religion and the Association 



14 Editorial "What She Could," Faith and Works, V 
(June, 1880), p. 150. 

15 "The Manhattan Report," Journal of the Eighteenth 
Biennial Conference of the International Board of Women's 
and Young Women*s Christian Associations (Baltimore, 
1905), pp. 65-72. 

16 Wilson, Grace. "Rooted in Religion," Womms Press, 
XXVI (December, 1932), pp. 721-722. 

17 Adams, Charlotte. "Some Aspects of the Underlying 
Philosophy of the Young Women's Christian Association in 
the U. S. A." (unpublished manuscript, 1932). 

18 Beard, Charles and Mary. The Rise of American Civil- 
isation (New York; The Macmillan Company, 1928), Vol. 
II, pp. 419-422. 

19 Re-port of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Eighth National Convention (1924), p. 52. 

20 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Sixth National Convention (1920), pp. 27, 38. 

21 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Seventh National Convention (1922), foreword. 

22 Unpublished records of the Conference Department, 
National Board. 

23 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Tenth National Convention (1928), pp. 65, 75. 

24 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Twelfth National Convention (1932), p. HO. 

25 Proceedings of the Eleventh National Convention of the 
Young Women's Christum Associations of the United States 
of America (Detroit, 1930), p. 52. 

26 Wilson, Grace H. Religious and Educational Philosophy 

123 



History of a Social Institution 



of the Young Women's Christian Association (New York: 
Teachers College, Columbia University, 1933)5 p. 87. 

27 Graham, Abbie, Grace H. Dodge: Merchant of Dreams 
(New York: The Womans Press, 1926). 

28 Burton, Margaret E. Mabel Cratty: Leader in the Art 
of Leadership (New York: The Womans Press, 1929). 

29 Roberts^ Richard. Florence Simms (New York: The 
Womans Press, 1926). 

ao World's Young Women's Christian Association. Clarissa 
Spencer (London, 1928). 

GENERAL REFERENCE 

Wilson, Elizabeth. Fifty Years of Association Work Among 
Young Women (New York: National Board of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations, 1916). 



124 



CHAPTER VI 

The Young Women's Christian Association and 
Its Foreign Program 

FROM the earliest years the Young Women's Christian 
Association in the United States has shown an interest 
in and concern for similar work among women in other 
countries. The convention of 1871 recorded a visit from 
a member of the British Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation, as well as a report of gifts and goods sent to India 
and China by Association members. This was presumably 
through church boards, as there was no Association work 
in those countries at that time. In the Association periodi- 
cals appear frequent letters from Association leaders in 
European countries France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany 
and Great Britain. For some years also the Canadian Asso- 
ciations were officially related to the national movements 
in the United States. This official connection continued 
until the gradual forming of the national body of Asso- 
ciations in Canada, the Dominion Council, between 1893 
and 1901. 

The origin of the foreign work of the Young Women's 
Christian Association, that is, the attempt to promote a 
woman's undenominational organization in other coun- 
tries, is to be found in the student Associations. In 1886 
the organization of the Student Volunteer Movement gave 
impetus to the student interest in mission lands. Through 
the efforts of church missionaries and Young Men's Chris- 

125 



History of a Social Institution 



tian Association secretaries, mission student Associations 
were organized in the Orient. Financial contributions were 
made to this work through the Young Women's Christian 
Associations in the United States. It was not, however, 
until 1895 that a Young Women's Christian Association 
secretary as such was sent to another country. At that 
time Agnes Hill of Toledo went to India as an employed 
officer of the Young Women's Christian Association. Her 
financial support was contributed by the Toledo city Asso- 
ciation. 

Just before Miss Hill went to India, the World's Young 
Women's Christian Association was organized in England. 
The other countries represented were Norway, Sweden and 
the United States. Annie Reynolds, from the staff of the 
American Committee in the United States, was called as 
the first World's general secretary. This forming of the 
World's organization gave increased impetus to missionary 
efforts. While both the then existing national organizations 
in the United States were interested in the growth of 
Association work in other countries, the strongly evangeli- 
cal character of the American Committee and the fact that 
the greater part of the student work was in that organiza- 
tion led to greater missionary activity on its part than was 
shown by the International Board. 

In December 1906, at the first convention of the present 
national organization, thirteen foreign secretaries of the 
American Young Women's Christian Association were re- 
ported in service, of whom eight were in India, three in 
China, one in Japan, and one in the Argentine. 

The policy of the Young Women's Christian Association 
in undertaking Association work in other countries was 
from the beginning that of offering assistance to those 
countries in developing their own work, particularly leader- 
126 



The Foreign Program 



ship training, rather than of trying to develop an American 
type of work. The report of the convention for 1906 states 
as a policy: "That in sending local secretaries to another 
country where there is a National Committee, the direc- 
tion of the work of such secretaries be under the direction 
of said committee while in that country." I 

This policy of trying to develop indigenous work 
rather than to superimpose a pattern raises the interesting 
question of the geographical scope of an institution. It is 
the attempt to separate the idea or concept from the struc- 
ture itself. The Young Women's Christian Association as 
it is today in the United States has grown out of the 
culture pattern and mores of this country. Being without 
pattern programs in any of its activities, its development 
is peculiarly dependent on its leadership. The extent to 
which representatives of that leadership can and do train 
nationals of other countries to have and use the same free- 
dom in their own lands is difficult to estimate. 

The foreign work of the Association in the United States 
has been carried on under the direction of the National 
Board on behalf of its member Associations. Because of 
this concentration of authority and responsibility it is easier 
to trace the development of policy and program than is 
true in the case of the diffused and unstandardized local 
work in the United States. In a careful report from the 
executive of the Foreign Department to the 1909 conven- 
tion the statement is made that "the purpose of the For- 
eign Department is to be a contributing agency to the 
Association movement in mission lands. . . . The first 
function of the foreign Association is to unite Christians 
of various denominations and thus increase their sense of 
the strength of Christianity as well as their efficiency in 
the extension of the Kingdom. . . . The Association not 

127 



History of a Social Institution 



only strengthens the Christians but occupies a unique place 
in standing before non-Christians as a representative of 
united Christianity. . . . The second chief function of the 
foreign Association work is to reach certain classes of 
women who are outside the direct influence of missions 
and to bring those that are thus reached into touch with 
the mission churches. . . . The third function of the for- 
eign Association work is to develop a sense of willingness 
on the part of the Indian, Chinese and Japanese women 
to assume responsibility, so that the Association may be- 
come self-supporting, self-controlling and self-propagat- 
ing." 2 It is evident from these statements that the unde- 
nominational character of Association work was making an 
appeal in foreign lands as it had in earlier years in the 
United States. 

The relationship of the Foreign Department to church 
mission boards has been very close, and the principle main- 
tained has been that of waiting for the invitation of the 
church mission groups, or at least for their consent, before 
making any attempt to organize Association work. The 
main method that the Association has used during all these 
years is that of sending to foreign countries trained, experi- 
enced secretaries who were young enough to become some- 
what familiar with the language, and of giving them as 
their chief responsibility the finding and training of woman 
leadership to carry on the Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation. According to the resourcefulness and wisdom of 
these leaders sent from the United States, the programs 
in different countries have developed. These programs 
have been influenced by the conditions and needs of the 
country in which they have been undertaken. In some 
cases they have closely paralleled the work of the Asso- 
128 



The Foreign Program 



ciation In the United States, in others there has been wide 
differentiation. 

Student Associations continued their cooperation with 
the Student Volunteer Movement and many of the single 
women sent out by church boards, as well as those who 
went from the Association, were during their college years 
active in the Young Women's Christian Association. 

The training of national leadership in the different coun- 
tries included both those women who might become pro- 
fessional workers in the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation and those who would be board and committee 
members. As a part of this search for and training of 
leadership the Foreign Department as early as 1909 be- 
gan to take a definite responsibility for getting acquainted, 
with and rendering assistance to foreign students studying 
in the United States, particularly to oriental students. 
The attempt was not only to bring them into close touch 
with the Christian life of their colleges but also to help 
them to become acquainted with representative Christian 
women and to know at first hand something about the 
development of the Young Women's Christian Association 
as a women's national organization in the United States. 

, By 1915 there were thirty-two secretaries in the foreign 
field. Then came the World War and the increase in the 
money available for promoting the national work of the 
Young Women's Christian Association. Even before the 
United States entered the World War the Foreign De- 
partment, because of the influence of the World's Young 
Women's Christian Association and pressure from the 
Young Men's Christian Association, was facing the neces- 
sity for increased work. In January 1917 the following 
resolution appears in the minutes of the department: 

129 



History of a> Social Institution 



In order to gather up the suggestions that are coming in, 
and execute well and wisely plans for this larger work that 
should be done in Europe, it was [January 15, 1917] : 

RESOLVED: That the Foreign Department ask the Execu- 
tive Committee to appoint a committee representing the 
work of the Young Women's Christian Association through- 
out the country, with a view to widening the scope of the 
work so as to include all women and girls in the warring 



Then came the entry of the United States into the war 
and the organization of the Overseas Committee of the 
War Work Council. From then until October 1920 the 
work in Europe was the responsibility of the War Work 
Council. The regular work of the Foreign Department 
was growing, however, carried along on the same wave 
of expansion that was bearing the whole organization on 
its swell. In 1916 there were under the Foreign Depart- 
ment forty-seven secretaries in five countries. In 1917, 
twenty-two additional secretaries were sent out to the for- 
eign field 5 in 1918, nineteen secretaries $ in 1919, thirty- 
one secretaries, in 1920, forty-one secretaries; in 1921, 
fifty-seven secretaries. This does not include war workers 
under the Overseas Committee of the War Work Council 
in Europe or the Near East. This expansion of work was 
mainly in China, Japan, India, and the countries of South 
America. Consideration was being given at this time to 
requests for organization from Mexico and the Philip- 
pines. 

In October 1920 the Overseas Committee of the War 
Work Council was consolidated with the Foreign Depart- 
ment under the name of the Foreign and Overseas De- 
partment. At that time there were 118 secretaries in thirty- 
two centers in the Orient and South America, and a some- 
130 



The Foreign Program 



what larger number of staff in fifty-nine centers in Europe 
and the Near East. The numbers were changing so rap- 
idly through transfer and demobilization that they could 
hardly be counted even for any one day. This uniting of 
effort brought an added reality to the new department, 
which had to face difficult international problems, and did 
much to transform the earlier "missionary" conception of 
its work into an enlarged vision of the possible function- 
ing of a world fellowship of women with a Christian ideal 

Much was still to be done, however, not only in other 
lands but also in the United States, to forward the growth 
of a common understanding of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association and its potential influence in world affairs. 
Up to the war period and even later, each national move- 
ment of the Young Women's Christian Association de- 
veloped largely according to its own needs and desires 
without reference to other national movements. Neverthe- 
less, in all these varied expressions of the Association idea 
there was emphasis upon the fellowship experience gained 
through associating women and girls of all groups for a 
common purpose abundant life for all and the planning 
of a program which should not only offer increased op- 
portunities to the individual for her own development but 
also take into consideration and strive to affect for the 
better the environment in which she lives and works. 

The aim of the Foreign Department was no exception 
to this. Its endeavor had been to build movements that 
would eventually be self-directing and self-supporting. To 
that end the American secretaries sent out were chosen 
primarily because of their ability to develop leadership. 
This was equally true of the overseas work of the War 
Work Council. Consequently the merging of the Foreign 



History of a Social Institution 



Department with the Overseas Committee was carried 
through without difficulty. 

Owing to the concentration of interest on Europe dur- 
ing the World War, the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation's work in Turkey, India, China, Japan, and the 
countries of South America expanded less rapidly than the 
newly organized work in Europe, Nevertheless, between 
1915 and 1920 the staff in those countries increased in 
number from thirty-two to ninety-seven, with a corre- 
sponding increase in the number of centers of work. 

About this time scholarships at the National Training 
School in the United States were provided for a number 
of foreign students. In 1920 and 1921 there were six such 
students from China, Japan, Russia and Bulgaria, and in 
the next year four from China and Belgium. All this work 
was closely related to developing the leadership of na- 
tionals in the various countries. The practice of giving 
scholarships to foreign students was continued until, in 
1930, the National Training School gave up its full year's 
course of professional training. Since that time there has 
been gradual development of an exchange plan which 
brings young professional Association leaders from other 
countries to the United States for a period of service in 
one or more local Associations and sends secretaries from 
this country to other national Associations for experience 
in their local methods of work. This plan is only in its 
beginnings but it has been taken up with enthusiasm and 
has already increased the sense of world relationship 
among Associations in the United States. In some cases 
the plan of training on the job is combined with profes- 
sional study either at Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion seminars and institutes or in some school of social 
work. 

132 



The Foreign Program 



Since the discontinuance of the work with foreign stu- 
dents, under the National Student Council, the Foreign 
Division has also found it necessary to put additional ef- 
forts into contacts with women students from other coun- 
tries who are studying in the United States and planning 
to go back to their own country in a professional capacity. 
Acquainting them with the Young Women's Christian 
Association in the United States is an important aspect of 
the gaining of national leadership for the Young Women's 
Christian Association in the various countries of the world. 
Such help is particularly necessary in the Latin American 
countries and in the Orient, where the number of experi- 
enced, trained women leaders in either professional or 
volunteer capacity is exceedingly limited. 

The programs of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciations in other countries, as well as their inception in the 
meeting of simple human needs, have much in common 
with the work in the United States, Club work with girls, 
educational classes, recreation, residences all are to be 
found in the different countries. It is particularly interest- 
ing to note that the program of health education and 
recreation has been an extremely popular one. In China a 
normal training school of physical education was devel- 
oped, and there was emphasis on gymnasium work, out- 
door games and health lectures in Japan and in the coun- 
tries of South America. 

In the report to the convention in 1924 an analysis was 
made of the membership of the Associations in other 
countries. The woman in the home, or the so-called woman 
of leisure, has often been the first group to be interested 
in the Association. In Argentina, Brazil, and in the Near 

133 



History of a Social Institution 



Bast many business and professional women, new groups 
in the economic life of those countries, were part of the 
Association and used it with more frequency than other 
groups. This was true also in the European Associations. 
In China, India and Japan the student Young Women's 
Christian Association was part of the whole Association 
movement. Beginning in the nineteen-twenties, an attempt 
was made to reach women going into industry, again a new 
social development, with some success in this work in both 
China and Japan. 

The work with younger girls is common to every coun- 
try $ in many places it is an adaptation of the Girl Reserve 
movement generally used in the United States but with a 
symbolism and program adapted particularly to each coun- 
try. That work with adolescents should be so widespread 
may mean little more than that girls in early adolescence 
are easy of access and are held by a colorful program of 
activity and recreation 5 or it may show an appreciation 
of the potential power of leadership in these girls who 
can in later years build and develop the Association move- 
ment. 

As the years have gone on it has been evident that the 
attempt to relate the Association closely to the country in 
which it is established and to work largely through in- 
digenous leadership has resulted in programs that differ 
very much from country to country, and in some places 
include work, such as health service for children, that in 
the United States is not generally considered to be part 
of the responsibility of the Young Women's Christian 
Association. This has been most true in those places where 
the Association is the only, or nearly the only, active 
women's organization. 



The Foreign Program 



"Health for women" has been the slogan of the Associa- 
tion in every country; and usually it has been a new but 
welcome one. In the Near East and Latin America, as 
well as in the Orient, physical development for women 
through gymnasium work was until lately unheard of. 
In Europe physical training was not always an innovation, 
but the health program that included recreation, folk- 
dancing and personal hygiene was distinctly a new feature 
and one that was especially needed in the period after the 
war. 

Camps have been one of the most important contributions 
to health education. Every country in which American 
secretaries are working has at least one camp. In many 
cases they are a completely new experience, but camp life 
is entered into by the senoritas of South America and the 
girls of the Orient and Europe with the same enthusiasm 
that American girls show. 

In China the Association conducts a many-sided program 
of health and physical education in a field practically un- 
touched by other agencies. 4 

The Young Women's Christian Association in attempt- 
ing to meet the religious needs of women and girls in 
other countries has been wisely flexible. The religious edu- 
cation program has as far as possible been adapted to the 
various types of experience. Bible study has been one of 
the most important methods, as it has in the United States. 
Vesper services, also, are frequently reported. 

The most important factor in the developing Associa- 
tions has, however, seemed to be the quality of the leader- 
ship. In the study made of the foreign work of both the 
Young Men's Christian Association and the Young 
Women's Christian Association under the direction of Dr. 
F. Ernest Johnson of the Federal Council of Churches, 
the following statement appears: 

135 



History of a Social Institution 



What is here suggested is that, by and large, the chief 
distinctive contribution of the Christian Associations to the 
lives of young men and young women has been in the 
guidance offered by leaders who in themselves embody the 
"Association idea." This contribution is supplemented and 
reinforced by the adaptation of their program to natural 
interests, the constructive use of the group idea, and the 
development of activities sufficiently specific to give sub- 
stance to training efforts. . . . 

The distinguishing mark of the Association secretary is 
his or her relationship to men and boys, women and girls, 
as in some sense an exemplar, an embodiment of Christian 
character. Where the Associations are at their best there is 
a tendency for men and boys, women and girls, to point 
to the secretary as all-in-all the kind of person they would 
like to be. Where this is not true there is an essential failure 
in Association purpose and achievement. 5 

From the published records and reports of the Foreign 
Division it appears that it has always been the objective 
of that department to help young Associations in other 
countries to become in as great a degree as possible self- 
supporting and self-governing. In other words, the ob- 
jective is distinctly indigenous movements rather than an 
extension of the work of the United States into other 
countries. Such a plan has, however, gone slowly in many 
places. It has grown most rapidly in European countries. 
Following the war the United States withdrew support, 
either of secretaries or grants of money, from the young 
Associations in Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, 
France, Russia, Belgium, Poland, Italy, and more gradu- 
ally from the Baltic States. The support of the work in the 
Near East has continued over a longer period but has had 
to be lessened for lack of financial resources. In the Near 

136 



The Foreign Program 



East and in the countries of South America and in certain 
other countries the Young Women's Christian Association 
has been called upon not only to develop a woman leader- 
ship capable of carrying the work of the Association, but 
also to help in establishing the status of women as profes- 
sional workers in the field of social work and to increase 
their self-confidence and their skill in work done outside 
the protection of their own homes at the same time per- 
suading the community of the tightness and desirability 
of women's doing those things! 

The national organization in this country has repeatedly 
reiterated that the aim of the foreign work promoted 
from the United States is to help women in other countries 
to establish their own organizations. The following para- 
graph from the report to the convention in 1926 states 
this clearly: 

The ultimate aim of the support which is given by Asso- 
ciations in the United States for work in other countries is 
to help the women of those countries to establish their own 
organizations and to secure staff and financial support within 
those countries. Progress toward this goal may be measured 
by increases in the amount of support and in the responsi- 
bility assumed by national leadership. Other factors, such as 
the scope and influence of the Association in the national 
life, enter in of course, but as a sending society the primary 
concern of the National Board and of the Associations in the 
United States is for the response in workers and funds in the 
countries to which the National Board is sending workers 
and money. 6 

The Foreign Division has been faced constantly with 
difficult problems of personnel, particularly that of choos- 
ing professional workers who were capable of taking the 

137 



History of a Social Institution 



best they had developed through experience in the 
United States and making it available to countries as dif- 
ferent, for instance, as Chile and China, or India and 
Estonia. Added to the necessity for professional adapta- 
tion was the matter of personal adaptation. The secre- 
taries have worked under varying types of government, 
with people of almost every religion, obliged to use in 
their daily life and work languages to which they were not 
accustomed, and faced with the need for fitting themselves 
quickly into a culture pattern that was alien to their ex- 
perience. This situation is well summarized in the report 
to the 1928 convention: 

In Turkey, for example, the program must conform to 
recently enacted government regulations affecting all re- 
ligious and philanthropic institutions. In the South American 
countries the religious belief of the majority of people is not 
the one out of which the Association in this country has 
developed. The thinking of the people in China today is 
conditioned by strongly nationalistic feelings and attitudes. 
The Association in India is made up of women both of the 
governing and the governed classes. Estonia and Latvia, 
with their three corresponding churches, present a variety of 
challenges to a Christian international organization. Unity 
of purpose in the midst of such diversity of backgrounds and 
methods is difficult of achievement and requires both states- 
manship and grace in those who are sent as well as in those 
who receive them. 7 

It is impossible to write about the foreign work of the 
Young Women's Christian Association in the United States 
without referring to the World's Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association. The fact that the national body in the 
United States is an organic part of the World's Young 

138 



The Foreign Program 



Women's Christian Association has had great influence 
on the Association program at certain points, and, as the 
years have gone on, a greater influence on the total atti- 
tude of the organization. The Association in the United 
States functions as a member of the World's organization 
through developing the work in its own country as a con- 
scious part of a world movement, so that it may be a 
strong and helpful member 5 through direct participation 
in the work of the World's Council by membership on it 
and by contributing financially to its support j and through 
contributing, under the guidance of the World's Council, 
to the Association movement in other countries. 

The Young Women's Christian Association has for 
years felt the tension between the point of view that the 
work of the Foreign Division was that of a sending society 
comparable to foreign mission boards of the various 
churches of the United States, and the point of view that 
as a member of the World's Association and thus help- 
ing and advising other national movements the Associa- 
tion in the United States was carrying on, through the 
Foreign Division, a natural part of its work, that differed 
little in essence though greatly in its practical aspects from 
the help that a large well-set-up Association might give 
through its leadership to the organizing of Association 
work in an adjacent community, a process of cooperation 
through sharing which is constantly going on in the United 
States. 

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the program of the 
Young Women's Christian Association in those countries 
to which the United States has furnished in some measure 
leadership and advisory service has been varied. The re- 
port of 1932 lists a variety of "international incidents" 

139 



History of a Social Institution 



which occurred in the two years between 1930 and 1932. 
They present such widely differing aspects as: 

China 

First national conference of industrial girls. 

Chinese official authorities ask Y.W.C.A. to direct work 
in one of the huge refugee camps for flood sufferers. The 
China Association raises a flood fund of considerable propor- 
tions. 

Communications to and from Association in Japan in re- 
gard to common peace aims. 
India 

First social workers' conference held, under auspices of 
Y.W.C.A. 

Association representatives attend first All- Asian Woman's 
Conference in Lahore in 1931. 

New hostel for students opened in Trivandrum, South 
India. 
Jafan 

Development of industrial center in Nagoya. 

Permanent camp-site given Tokyo Association by friends 
in Canada. 

Four Japanese secretaries studying in the United States. 
Philippine Islands 

Dormitory for students opened. 
Syria 

Conference with other countries of the Eastern Mediter- 
ranean region. 

Near East Relief transfers its employment bureau accom- 
panied by a maintenance fund to Y.W.C.A. 
Turkey 

First Turkish delegates attend World's Y.W.C.A. train- 
ing course in Rumania and conference in Palestine. 

New organization plan adopted, looking to establishment 
of a Turkish organization under a Turkish board composed 
of both Christian and Moslems but predominantly Moslem, 

140 



The Foreign Program 



and liaison committee to keep contact with Y.W.C.A. move- 
ment. 
Estonia 

National constitution registered with government. 
First national convention. 
South America 
Bolivia organized. 
Argentina 

Cafeteria opened in Buenos Aires. 

First training course for playground leaders. 
Brazil 

Case-work secretary of Rio de Janeiro studies in United 
States. 

Association participates in International Women's Con- 
gress. 
Chile 

Hostel for university students opens in Santiago. 

Association helps in recreation and clothing distribution 
in government refugee center. 
Uruguay 

Health education department trains leaders' group in 
two-year course. 
Mexico 

Week-end camp property near Mexico City acquired. 

Mexican physical director assumes charge of gymnastics 
work after receiving training in United States and 
Denmark. 8 

In the International Survey of the Y.M.C.A* and 
Y.W.C.A. Dr. Johnson points out that the trend, in the 
United States, of the Association toward what can be 
called the social wing of American Christianity has af- 
fected the work in other countries as well. He says that 
it is of great importance for future relationships that this 
American idea should be understood abroad. It has been 

141 



History of a Social Institution 



a source of misunderstanding in certain places, perhaps 
less in the Orient than in other countries. Dr. Johnson 
states that it is looked upon by some Christian leaders, 
particularly in Europe, as a preoccupation with things. 
He is clear, however, that it is far more than that: 

It embodies a vigorous social faith, the outgrowth of a 
conviction that the redemption of society is a fundamental 
part of the church's task that the social structure, no less 
than the individual life, is the object of Christian redemp- 
tion; indeed, that the interrelations of the two demand it. 
The interest in the social gospel as manifested in many of 
our American churches and in our Christian Associations 
reflects a conviction that only through serious grappling 
with the social structure can the individual be effectively 
reached and regenerated. 5 

Dr. Johnson points out that the distinctive quality of the 
Young Women's Christian Association in other countries 
is that a of being responsible for the extension of this 
fellowship principle, which is the essence of the 'Associa- 
tion idea/ on an international and interreligious basis. This 
fact gives the foreign work its raison d*etre as an object of 
American giving and validates its appeal to the constit- 
uency of the Associations." 

In the development of an indigenous leadership the 
Association has found many problems. Dr. Johnson sum- 
marizes this in the following way: 

The recruiting and training of an indigenous secretariat 
are now hampered by several factors: (i) the fact that the 
movements do not make an effective appeal to a sufficient 
number of able young men and women; (2) the predomi- 
nance of institutional responsibilities which tend to deaden 
the idealism of recruits and to require of them a type of 

142 



The Foreign Program 



service for which the youth of nations that have not pro- 
gressed far in economic development have scant prepara- 
tion; (3) the lack of security through adequate compensa- 
tion and provision for retirement, which are universally 
looked for in most of these countries by young people 
contemplating a professional career. 5 

Dr. Johnson is of course speaking of both the Young 
Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's 
Christian Association. It is apparently true from the ex- 
perience of the Young Women's Christian Association 
that (3) ? the lack of security, is an even greater problem in 
the Young Women's Christian Association than in the 
Young Men's Christian Association. In such countries as 
South America, for instance, it is by no means an accepted 
fact that women should work outside their own homes and 
find in social work a continuous opportunity for service 
which will provide them with a livelihood. 

Over the years, the objective of the Young Women's 
Christian Association in carrying on its foreign work has 
been unchanged that of developing in the various coun- 
tries and under national leadership Young Women's 
Christian Associations which shall be the true expression 
of the women of those countries. Under the financial stress 
of the last few years the withdrawal of help in terms of 
program grants and particularly of staff seems to have 
been in several instances too rapid. The slow progress of 
women in attaining status as professional social workers has 
not been substantial enough to hold the work without the 
guidance of the American staff. 

In the United States there has been in the past a lack 
of continuous interpretation to the local Associations of the 
basic elements in the program of the foreign work. The 

143 



History of a Social Institution 



educational material sent to Associations, the speeches 
made at conferences, tended to fall back on the picturesque, 
to resemble travel talks too much and to say too little of 
the conditions of women in the various countries and the 
contribution of the Young Women's Christian Association. 
In recent years, however, the total situation in other lands 
as it affects women has been to the fore, and the place of 
the Association as a woman movement, Christian in pro- 
gram and with a strong international emphasis, is con- 
stantly stressed not only in the United States but in all 
other countries where the Association idea has taken root. 

Until recently, also, relatively little advantage was taken 
of the opportunity for tying up the work in foreign coun- 
tries with the program for peace and international under- 
standing promoted in the Association in the United States. 
There is now a growing realization that in its foreign 
work the Association of the United States has a laboratory 
experiment and a program in international education the 
possibilities of which are still young. 

From various reports, speeches and correspondence it 
is evident that, particularly in the Orient, a rising question 
is the character of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion as a Christian organization and the possibility of its 
becoming an interreligious rather than a Christian move- 
ment. At the same time there is increasing emphasis in 
the World's organization and in many of the national 
movements, on the essentially Christian character of the 
Association and its contribution to Christian thought and 
action. These are major questions of polity involving the 
roots of the organization. These questions of what is hap- 
pening to women the world over and of the future of an 
indigenous movement, Christian in inception, in the coun- 
tries of the East where other religions are well rooted, 
144 



The Foreign Program 



will in their solving determine the future of the foreign 
work of the Association. 

With the great reduction in financial resources of the 
early nineteen-thirties it became necessary for the Foreign 
Division to discover new and untried ways of promoting 
the world viewpoint and service of the Young Women's 
Christian Association. In an article in the Womans Press 
the executive of the Foreign Division has stated the trends 
of new policy as follows: 

The keynote is cooperation within the framework of the 
World's Association, using the World's Council as an inter- 
national planning center and clearing house. The older 
days of "sending" and "receiving" are outmoded. Con- 
centration on certain clearly defined projects in a few 
countries in order to maintain the highest possible standard 
is the intensive program, matched by an extensive program 
of lesser units of aid all over the world through wide 
contacts, conferences and pieces of training. 

The methods used are to be more varied and flexible than 
heretofore. A smaller number of full-time secretaries will be 
augmented by a larger number of short-time workers and 
volunteers. Funds will be applied to many types of enter- 
prises of a non-recurring nature In many different countries 
instead of being sent as monthly grants to carry the overhead 
of a very few Association movements. Resources previously 
overlooked, such as Association officers on world journeys 
and leaders from other countries in American universities, 
will be discovered and utilized. 9 

This new turn to the world enterprise is as truly pio- 
neering as anything done in those early days when the 
Young Women's Christian Association dared to send 
"young unmarried women" to the foreign field and to 

H5 



History of a Social Institution 



entrust to them the task of building an indigenous woman 

movement, Christian and international. 

SOURCES 

1 Report of the First Biennial Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (New York, 1906), p. 17. 

2 Report of the Second Biennial Convention of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations of the United States 
of America (St. Paul, 1909), pp. 49-51. 

8 Minutes of the Foreign Department, 1917. 

4 Report of the National Board of the Young Women y s 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Eighth National Convention (1924), p. 208. 

5 International Survey Committee. International Survey of 
the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations 
(New York, 1932), pp. 338, 343-344> 45> 407* 

6 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's* 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Ninth National Convention (1926), p. 1 8. 

7 Report of the National Board of the Young Women^ 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Tenth National Convention (1928), p. 61. 

8 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Twelfth National Convention (1932), pp, 92-95. 

9 Lyon, Sarah S. "The World Moves On," Womans Press, 
XXIX (January, 1935), pp. 13-14. 

GENERAL REFERENCES 

Foreign Facts (1929, 1930-31). 

Speakers Hand Book World Program, 1919 (Issued by Na- 
tional Speakers Bureau of the Young Women's Christian 
Association, 600 Lexington Avenue, New York City) . 

146 



The Foreign Program 



The National ami International Work of thff Young Women's 
Christian Association (Issued by the Finance and Publicity 
Department, National Board of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Associations, New York, 1928). 

Wilson, Elizabeth. World Cooperation of the Young Womeits 
Christian Associations of the United States of America, A 
Record of the Foreign Work of the American Associations 
1866-1929. 



CHAPTER VII 
Pioneering 

IN the growing complexity of life today the methods 
whereby an institution subdivides and gives birth to 
other institutions are of social significance. In following 
such development in the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation the processes that appear are, the recognition of a 
new need or new opportunity in the lives of women and 
girls, a study of that need, and the formulation of plans 
for experimentation in meeting the need. After a longer or 
shorter period, if the experimentation is successful, the 
techniques are developed, the field of work defined, and 
the objective and the specific purpose clearly recognized. 
At this point the possibility of the new institution's stand- 
ing on its own feet in terms of financial support and 
trained leadership is scrutinized and, if the time seems 
auspicious, the new movement is launched. So elaborate a 
process cannot be discovered in the early days, when action 
followed inspiration with little provision for study, but in 
the end the results were substantially the same. The fact 
that the Young Women's Christian Association has con- 
sciously seen program at any point in time and space as 
the expression of the interests and needs of its member- 
ship rather than as a continuing pattern, has made it 
relatively easy organizationally, for such an institutional 
nebular hypothesis to create new institutions. 

The number and importance of the independent move- 
148 



Pioneering 

merits and organizations which owe their beginnings or a 
large part of their initial impetus to the Young Women's 
Christian Association is worthy of record. The Association 
has, it seems from this evidence, conceived its program task 
to be often one of pioneering, and has been satisfied when 
the point is reached where a plan, a program or an idea has 
so proved its worth that it can be taken over by another 
organization or can launch forth on its own. 

Many of the early local Young Women's Christian 
Associations started work which later became independent 
philanthropies or charities in their cities. For example. 
Women's Exchanges for the sale of women's handiwork 
were started in St. Louis, Cincinnati and other places, and 
put on a paying basis. The Board of Associated Charities 
of Cincinnati, and other relief agencies elsewhere, had 
their origin in Young Women's Christian Association 
work. The Cleveland Association carried on work with 
children for eleven years, until in 1893 the Day Nursery 
and Kindergarten Society of Cleveland became a chartered 
institution. 

Records are incomplete, and consequently the statements 
which follow cover only a partial list of organizations, 
movements and enterprises which were in their beginnings 
actively promoted or shared in by the Young Women's 
Christian Association. In some cases this work meant lend- 
ing staff as well as sitting in counsel 5 in others the Asso- 
ciation has been a less obvious but real force in the difficult 
task of giving structure and form to ideas and theories. 
Such cooperation as this represents falls within the area 
of interest of the Young Women's Christian Association 
because of the Association's concern for the whole girl 
or woman and for her development. In making this theo- 
retical approach of unity of conception, specialized tasks 

149 



History of a Social Institution 



emerge which can be more effectively carried into sus- 
tained action by a group other than the one which has to 
do with the whole. It would seem that in following such a 
theory to its logical conclusions the welfare and needs of 
girls and women rather than the fortunes of an institution 
have been uppermost in the minds of the leaders. 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TRAVELERS 
AID SOCIETIES 

The report of the National Board of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations to the Eighth National 
Convention, in 1924, gives the history of Association 
cooperation with the Travelers' Aid Society up to that 
time. The paragraphs quoted in this statement are from 
that report. 

Nearly forty years ago the Boston Y.W.C.A. established 
cooperative service with England in the first travelers' aid 
work in America. As a natural sequence other cities added 
a worker for travelers' aid to their Y.W.CA. staffs in order 
to meet and protect traveling girls and women. ... As 
yet, New York City, through its Women's Bible Society or 
the Young Women's Christian Association, met trains or 
steamers only on request, in particular cases. 1 

In 1903 the New York City Travelers' Aid Society was 
formed, non-sectarian and non-commercial, and soon, 
under the guidance of the same Grace Dodge who was 
later the president of the National Board of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations, became the most impor- 
tant society bearing the name. Travelers 7 aid societies oper- 
ating as a part of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion predominated in the country at large. 
150 



Pioneering 

This was due to the fact that no other organizations in 
such towns and cities were either equipped or interested to 
help the girls of America as were the local Young Women's 
Christian Associations, bound together by their national 
affiliation. 1 

All organizations, including the Young Women's Cfaris- 
tion Association, which were doing travelers' aid work 
recognized the need of national travelers 1 aid unity as 
inherent in the nature of the service. Therefore, in 1914. 
the National Board of the Young Women's Christian 
Associations joined in a movement to promote national 
cooperation, which in 1917 resulted in the formation of 
the National Board of Travelers Aid Societies (now the 
National Association of Travelers Aid Societies). The Na- 
tional Board of the Young Women's Christian Association 
was represented on this travelers' aid board by Mrs. Rob- 
ert E. Speer, Mrs. Robert L. Dickinson and Dr. Anna 
L. Brown. 

It was evident that in the best interests of this service 
there should be affiliation of all societies doing travelers' aid 
work, as its peculiar need is complete harmony of coopera- 
tion, standardization of method and fluid procedure. Both 
national bodies recognize the difficulty of any local society's 
belonging and owing responsibility to two national organiza- 
tions. Therefore, with the same attitude that has character- 
ized the national Young Women's Christian Association in 
several similar periods of its history, it was ready to see 
travelers 3 aid pass out of the sole administration of any local 
Y.W.C.A. into that of a cooperating community committee 
of which the Y.W.C.A. could be one factor, but which 
should be affiliated and directed by the National Travelers' 
Aid. 1 

151 



History of a Social Institution 



WOMEN'S FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH 

This organization was a direct outgrowth of the work 
done by the War Work Council of the Young Women's 
Christian Association through its Commission on Social 
Morality and its program of health education. During the 
war period the educational work of this Commission on 
Social Morality was aimed at making social practices cor- 
respond to the highest code of ethics of individuals and to 
the ideal of positive health as the norm for each person. 
Interest in health grew with appreciation of the fact that 
health was an attainable as well as a desirable aim. A 
change in attitude became evident, in that women were no 
longer willing to accept physical weakness as inevitable. 2 

To such a program of health education it was evident 
that medical women had a special contribution. 

On the invitation and at the expense of the National 
Board of the Young Women's Christian Associations, an 
international conference of women physicians was held in 
New York City for a period of six weeks in the fall of 
1919. Thirty official delegates were sent from fifteen na- 
tions. During the closing days of this notable conference, 
the first international gathering of medical women, the 
results were condensed and reported to a convention of 
thirteen national women's organizations. . . . 

From this convention there emerged the Women's 
Foundation for Health, a cooperative body of fourteen 
leading national women's organizations, "formed with the 
purpose of correlating the health activities of the various 
organizations in a program emphasizing the positive phase 
of health." 

The National Board of the Young Women's Christian 
Associations sponsored this movement, making possible the 

152 



Pioneering 

services of the necessary technicians, and facilities for pro- 
moting the program. A series of publications on various 
aspects of health were issued jointly by the Bureau of 
Social Education of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation, the Women's Foundation for Health, and the 
American Medical Association. 

In July 1922 the foundation became an independent 
organization with headquarters in New York City. 

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF BUSINESS 
AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN'S CLUBS 

The Young Women's Christian Association has always 
included in its membership individual business and pro- 
fessional women and special clubs made up of younger 
business girls. Nevertheless no real effort was made to 
organize that group on a national scale until 1919. At that 
time a secretary was called to the National Board staff to 
take up this responsibility for the national organization. 
After much thought and a frank facing of facts, it was 
decided that the interests of the entire group might best 
be served by promoting, along with the development of 
the Association program for business and professional 
women's clubs, the formation of an independent federa- 
tion of business and professional women throughout the 
country. The Young Women's Christian Association recog- 
nized that its chief function lay in the development of a 
program with the younger business girls, and that older 
women from business and the professions found their place 
naturally on the boards and committees of local Associa- 
tions. 3 

At a meeting called and financed by the War Work 
Council of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations, a National Federation of Business 

153 



History of a Social Institution 



and Professional Women's Clubs was organized in St. 
Louis, July 14-18, 1919. The War Work Council financed 
the new organization by a grant of an additional $15,000, 
thus making it possible for the new organization, from 
the beginning, to employ trained leadership, 4 

RELATIONS OF THE SUMMER SCHOOLS OF 

INDUSTRIAL WORKERS WITH THE YOUNG 

WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION 

The relationship of the Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation with the summer schools of industrial workers 
has followed a somewhat different line. Here, instead of 
starting under the Young Women's Christian Association, 
the new agency has from the beginning been a separate 
organization, with the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion helping at many points and using its varied resources, 
both national and local, in particular those of its industrial 
department, to further the new enterprise. Included in this 
cooperation has been the continued help given by several 
individuals to the difficult task of raising funds. The in- 
dustrial department of the National Board helped to re- 
cruit the first group of students and the industrial staff 
have continued to give active service to the schools in 
reaching applicants each year. 

As the summer school organization developed, the orig- 
inal district committees were sub-divided so that there was 
one in each of the principal industrial cities of the United 
States. These committees have often been fostered by the 
industrial department of the local Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association, especially in those places where no other 
interest was at first apparent. After committees have been 
organized the industrial secretary or some member of the 
industrial department has always served on the summer 

154 



Pioneering 



school committee, often taking the brunt of the work with 
the students. The Young Women's Christian Association 
has offered facilities for meetings to summer school com- 
mittees and has endeavored to make all summer school 
students feel at home in its building. In some cases, work 
with the summer school students has been considered part 
of the job of the industrial secretary and included in her 
regular schedule. 

In following up former students, arranging classes for 
them and bringing them into contact with various com- 
munity organizations, the help of the local industrial de- 
partments has been continuous. Conferences of the indus- 
trial department have often aroused the first interest of 
summer school applicants in industrial questions and have 
given them some idea of the work of the summer schools. 

"Not only with the actual summer school work but in 
the more difficult task of interpreting industrial problems 
to the public, the industrial departments of the Young 
Women's Christian Association have led the way. From 
the point of view of the summer school organization this 
piece of educational work is most valuable and is proving 
far-reaching in its effects." 5 

THE INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION SERVICE 

In 1911 the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations established in New York City the 
first International Institute, a branch of the Association 
devoted entirely to the protection and general welfare of 
immigrant girls and women. Other branches soon fol- 
lowed the organization of this one. 

In 1914, at the World's Young Women's Christian 
Association conference in Stockholm, Sweden, the delega- 
tion from the United States, in consequence of the dis- 

155 



History of a Social Institution 



covery of the need by the International Institutes, made 
proposals that an international plan for the protection 
of migrating girls be set up between the various countries. 
The war intervened and delayed the development of such 
a plan. But in June 1920, at the next World's conference 
of the Young Women's Christian Association, in Switzer- 
land, the following resolution was passed: 

The International Commission wishes to record its con- 
viction that the movement of large groups of people from 
one country to another, forming highways of intercom- 
munication, might be made a means of building up a better 
understanding between national groups, and that for this 
reason, as well as because of the necessity of meeting the 
immediate human needs involved, an organization which 
is Christian and international must be deeply concerned with 
this question in all its bearings* 

At the same time it is our opinion that emigration for 
young girls alone, in view of the upheaval which is neces- 
sarily involved, is as a general rule harmful, and that there- 
fore the Association should discourage the emigration of 
girls without their families. We are agreed, however, that 
it is the duty of the Association to regard emigration as 
offering a definite opportunity for Christian service, and 
therefore to see that all emigrants are given help and as 
much practical instruction as possible for the changed con- 
ditions to which they are going. 6 

By January 1921 a secretary of migration had been 
appointed, followed immediately by the establishment of 
a research and information bureau. Special migration 
secretaries were appointed in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, 
France and the United States, and definite plans for work 
also in Poland and Constantinople were under way. 
156 



Pioneering 

An international study was made of the welfare of 
migrants. This report, completed in June 1921, made 
recommendations of far-reaching influence in regard to 
health and hygiene, protection in transit, coordination of 
government regulations, deportations, repatriation, illiter- 
acy and other acute problems of the situation of migrants. 
Recommendations based on this study were lodged with 
the International Labor Bureau and the Social Welfare 
Section of the League of Nations, with the International 
Red Cross, with the Young Men's Christian Association, 
and with the World's Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion. These recommendations have served as the founda- 
tion not only for constructive social service program but 
for fundamental changes in the care and handling of 
human beings as they move from one country to another. 

The international protective service of the national 
bodies of Young Women's Christian Associations was well 
under way when the World's Young Women's Christian 
Association declared in 1923 that the needs of this inter- 
national service were so great that they warranted its being 
set up as an independent agency devoted entirely to that 
program. As an independent body it was hoped that the 
work could grow far beyond anything which could be 
achieved if it remained as one sector of an extensive organ- 
ization committed to many other interests. 

At the Eighth National Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations, in 1924, the following 
resolution was adopted: 

That we encourage and aid the World's Committee in 
the forming of a separate organization for carrying on 
international migration service, separated from but cooperat- 

157 



History of a Social Institution 



ing with the World's Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion. 7 

By October i, 1924, a new organization, to be known 
as the International Migration Service, had been effected 
as a result of the cooperative action of the World's Com- 
mittee and of the national Associations of Young Women's 
Christian Associations in seven different countries. 

In the "Report of the National Board to the Ninth 
National Convention" in 1926, the following statement 
appears: 

The resolution of the convention in respect to this work 
was that we encourage and aid the World's Committee in 
the forming of a separate organization for carrying on the 
migration service. . . . Help was given by the National 
Board to the securing of money for the budget for this 
organization, and that part of the program of the Depart- 
ment of Immigration and Foreign Communities which was 
given over to this service was separated from the National 
Board and became a branch of the International Migration 
Service, with its headquarters in New York City. 8 

In 1932 this International Migration Service, with in- 
ternational headquarters in Geneva, with well-established 
bureaus in seven countries and with correspondents in 
three times as many more, celebrated its seventh year of 
successful independent service. 

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF IMMIGRANT 
WELFARE 

After study of the changing needs among the foreign- 
born, the National Board in 1933 launched a new national 
society called "The National Institute of Immigrant Wel- 
158 



Pioneering 

fare." To this new organization the National Board turned 
over the Bureau of Immigration and the Foreign-Born, 
which it had maintained in different forms for over twenty 
years. This transfer involved expenditure both of time 
and money during the months of planning and promo- 
tion. The action of the National Board was as follows : 

At the meeting of the National Board of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of 
America, held Wednesday, June 7, 1933, the following 
actions were taken regarding work for foreign-born people: 

1 . In recognition of the changing conditions among foreign- 
born people ; of the increasing need of specialized work in 
their behalf; and of the possibilities at this time for a con- 
structive approach to the future in migration work and 
work within the foreign communities; 

And while emphasizing its policy of including women 
and girls of all nationalities in the membership and fellow- 
ship of the Association and planning to continue to en- 
gage in programs and plans for work with women and 
girls of foreign communities, be it 

Voted: i. That the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations in principle approve the organiza- 
tion of a distinctive national agency to meet the needs 
of foreign-born people in a more extensive way than 
has been possible heretofore. 

2. That the National Board appoint a committee of two or 
more members of the National Board, the general secre- 
tary of the Association, and the executive secretary of the 
Bureau of Immigration and the Foreign- Born to take 
such steps as may be necessary and possible for the 
development of such an agency. 

159 



History of a Social Institution 



3. That the National Board is convinced that the best in- 
terests of foreign-born people and the country would be 
served if a closer integration of all specialized programs 
in this field might be achieved. 

The report to the Thirteenth National Convention of 
the Young Women's Christian Associations, held in Phila- 
delphia in 1934, makes the following statements: 

On December 13, 1933, the inaugural meeting of the 
new agency proposed was held and a committee of twenty- 
six was constituted. From this beginning there has emerged 
"The National Institute of Immigrant Welfare" with a 
national Board of Directors of fifty to one hundred, geo- 
graphically distributed. . . . 

The National Board will transfer a great part of its 
specialized activities in immigration and in the foreign com- 
munities to the National Institute of Immigrant Welfare. 
Thus the experience of over twenty years, and the proved 
principles of this work will be resolved into a new force 
to carry on for understanding of foreign folk, for sympathy 
with the stranger adrift in a strange land, and for service 
to people from all earth's lands, which the Young Women's 
Christian Associations have so well begun. 9 

This willingness of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation to turn over work it had begun and in some cases 
carried on over a considerable period, was due not only 
to the considered decision that the type of work involved, 
such as travelers' aid work, was not inherently germane 
to the general policy of the organization, and to the knowl- 
edge that it was not financially possible under the Young 
Women's Christian Association to maintain or expand the 
work to meet the needs and opportunities that their early 
successful ventures had disclosed, but also to the fact that 
1 60 



Pioneering 

the Young Women's Christian Association had early ac- 
cepted for itself responsibility for starting enterprises too 
pioneering in character to arouse general interest and 
support. 

In other words, an important factor in the development 
of this and of other new organizations has been the pro- 
tection and the nurture given by the Young Women's 
Christian Association at a time when the energies of the 
pioneer leaders were needed to promote the idea and the 
concept rather than to provide the framework of the in- 
stitution. In this respect the Young Women's Christian 
Association has to a certain extent played the role of a 
foundation, coming into the field much earlier and pro- 
viding experience, guidance and enthusiasm in addition 
to financial support. 

SOURCES 

1 Report on Cooperation with the National Association of 
Travelers Aid Societies, Report of the National Board of the 
Young Women's Christian Associations of the United, States 
of America to the Eighth National Convention (1924), pp. 
229-231. 

2 Gates, Edith M. Health Through Leisure-Time Recrea- 
tion (New York: The Womans Press, 1931), pp. 187, 188, 
190. 

3 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Sixth National Convention (1920), p, 16. 

4 Report of the Action of the Executive Committee of the 
War Work Council, February 25, 1919. 

5 Unpublished manuscript of Hilda W. Smith, Director of 
Affiliated Summer Schools for Women Workers in Industry. 

1 Findings of the Three Sections of the International Com- 

161 



6 



History of a Social Institution 



mission, World's Young Women's Christian Association 
(Champery, Switzerland, 1920), p. 7. 

7 Report of the Eighth National Convention of the Young 
Women' *s Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (New York City, 1924), p. 158. 

8 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Ninth National Convention (1926), p. 60. 

9 Dickinson, Mrs. Robert L., and Bremer, Mrs. Harry M. 
"Report of the Bureau of Immigration and the Foreign-Born," 
Womans Press, XXVIII (April, 1934), pp. 189-190. 



162 



CHAPTER VIII 

Strains and Stresses 

behavior, in the sense that the individuals 
making up the group are motivated by a common im- 
pulse and act as a group in furthering their common pur- 
pose, is characteristic of social movements. Instances of 
collective behavior are numerous in the history of the 
Young Women's Christian Association behavior moti- 
vated by a desire for social reform which follows the 
Christian pattern of individual and social life. Park and 
Burgess in their Introduction to the Science of Sociology 
say: 

Social unrest is first communicated, then takes form in 
crowd and mass movements, and finally crystallizes in insti- 
tutions. . . . There is at first a vague general discontent 
and distress. Then a violent, confused and disorderly but 
enthusiastic and popular movement arises. Finally the move- 
ment takes form; develops leadership organization; formu- 
lates doctrines and dogmas eventually it is accepted, estab- 
lished, legalized. The movement dies, but the institution 
remains. 1 

In a restricted fashion this general development is ap- 
parent in the growth of the Young Women's Christian 
Association. The effects of the common impulse, however, 
seem to be recurrent as the occasion arises, growing out of 
the conflict in interests of the varied groups making up 

163 



History of a Social Institution 



the membership of the organization. As a consequence, the 
movement aspects as characterized by collective behavior 
have never ceased, but manifest themselves at these periods 
of conflict, while the institution, in the sense of the frame- 
work of the organization, stabilizes and through its 
methods of group work maintains the varied membership 
which makes recurrent conflicts of interest inevitable. 

It is possible that if the recurrent character of the col- 
lective behavior of the movement could be identified and 
the conflict pattern traced through its cycle, it would throw 
light on the difficult question of maintaining within settled 
institutions vitality and the ability to change. 

There is in the Young Women's Christian Association 
little standardization of program. The unifying elements 
have been and are the purpose of the organization and the 
continuous interchange of plans, ideas, programs and poli- 
cies brought about through the work of the national body, 
its publications, and such gatherings as the national con- 
ventions, summer conferences and training courses. Be- 
cause the particular way in which these general policies 
shall express themselves in local communities is deter- 
mined by the vision and capacity of the leadership, the 
local program is peculiarly susceptible to what is going on 
in any particular community and the needs and desires 
of women there. 

To a large extent the same thing is true of national and 
world programs. In the International Messenger of Feb- 
ruary 1900, the following statement is made by the presi- 
dent of the Louisville, Kentucky, Association: 

The crowning glory of the Women's Christian Associa- 
tion is that it lives "down among the people" ; and while its 

164 



Strains and Stresses 



women, as a body, will not have the responsibility of the 
ballot, they do not hesitate to go to the fountain-head and 
mold politics as best they can and where it should be pri- 
marily influenced, in the lives and hearts of the mothers and 
wives of the voters; doing so by way of the Association's 
comfort and relief committees, by its mothers' meetings, and 
along many other avenues by us alone best and most quietly 
and gently reached. 2 

This point of view, expressed in the terminology of a time 
when women did not have political suffrage that the 
Association is responsible for and interested in all matters 
affecting women and girls., as much in their causes and 
origins as in remedial programs to lessen the effects o 
unfortunate conditions is repeatedly stressed through the 
years of Association history. 

Interest in the temperance question appeared early. This 
was the first question that could be called one of public 
affairs to become evident. In Faith and Works of Septem- 
ber 1875 it says: "The Temperance Question is at present 
receiving something like the attention which its vital im- 
portance merits. A new phase of effort has been put forth 
in the past two years by the women of the land." 3 Then 
follows a discussion of the organization of the Women's 
National Christian Temperance Union and an earnest rec- 
ommendation that Association women take their part in 
this movement. From then on there was scarcely a number 
of this magazine that did not at some point recognize the 
temperance question. 

Early also in the history of the organization is found 
keen interest in the question of industrial conditions under 
which women were working. The following statement in a 
paper presented at the eleventh national conference, in 

165 



History of a Social Institution 



1891, is related to the question of wages and homes for 
working girls: 

We have been accustomed to think the question of wages 
quite beyond our province. Are we justified in shirking re- 
sponsibility here? I believe not. I believe that the Women's 
Christian Associations of the land have power to materially 
influence the rate of women's wages and that in neglecting 
to use that power they are making a serious blunder. It is 
not necessary to organize trades-unions and lead labor pro- 
cessions. There are simpler methods by which one may en- 
deavor to raise the industrial status of women. We may 
investigate complaints, we may make public and private pro- 
test against injustice, we may give encouragement and aid 
to women who are seeking better pay. 

Why should not a Christian association definitely under- 
take such work? May the day soon come when Christian 
women shall unite "to loose the bands of wickedness, to 
undo heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, to break 
every yoke." Some of the Associations here represented will 
feel that they are not yet ready for active championship of 
the industrial rights of women, but all will agree that our 
influence must not be on the wrong side. It may be that 
we are unconsciously contributing to the forces that tend to 
depress the wages of women. 4 

One of the serious problems met at points like this 
is the strain that comes at times on a single local Associa- 
tion. The actions of the convention are binding on the 
national organization but not on its autonomous local units. 
Nevertheless, the whole Association movement is bound 
so closely together that if a local Association, particularly 
one that is alive to the needs and interests of women, 
incurs the criticism of groups of individuals in the com- 
munity through following out recommendations made at 
1 66 



Strains and Stresses 



the national convention, it becomes in the eyes of the 
public liable not only for its own acts but also for the poli- 
cies and practices of similar nature of the national Asso- 
ciation. It is considerations of this kind that impel the 
National Board to refer to the national convention ques- 
tions of detail in regard to its public affairs program and 
to ask repeatedly for endorsement of policies. Experience 
has shown that the Young Women's Christian Association 
is a movement which cannot be easily broken into its com- 
ponent parts, and that each local Association bears in time 
of crisis the burden of the whole, even as the good name of 
the national organization is in the eyes of the public deter- 
mined by the character of any particular local Association 
on which attention is focused. There is perhaps no stronger 
evidence than this of the essential "movement" character 
of the Association. 

Of no less significance for the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association was the action taken by the Cleveland 
convention in endorsing the "Social Ideals of the 
Churches," a statement in regard to industrial principles, 
drawn up and endorsed by the Federal Council of the 
Churches of Christ in America. The national conference of 
industrial girls, which met in Washington in the autumn 
of 1919, had passed a series of resolutions urging that the 
Young Women's Christian Association "consider and pre- 
sent to its National Board a set of standards for women in 
industry, such as an eight-hour law, prohibition of night 
work, the right of labor to organize." 5 This request was 
accompanied by the suggestion that the Association take 
steps to work for the "passage of such laws as will make 
possible the carrying out of these standards." 5 

A study of the issues involved was begun, both through 
the national organization and through the local Associa- 

167 



History of a Social Institution 



tions. As a result of this work the Committee on the Na- 
tional Board's Report to the national convention in Cleve- 
land in the spring of 1920 recommended to the convention 
the adoption of the Social Ideals of the Churches. It was 
the general feeling of the National Board that it preferred 
to follow the lead of the churches in this matter rather 
than to develop an independent statement covering much 
the same field. This convention was also deeply concerned 
with the religious basis itself (see Chapter V), giving it 
equal consideration with the Social Ideals., the two subjects 
interacting on each other. 

This action came nine years after the Indianapolis con- 
vention, where resolutions directed to the same end had 
been adopted. Much had happened., however, in those nine 
years. The whole country was now conscious of the eco- 
nomic power of women and their importance in the field of 
industry. Moreover, women had received full political 
suffrage, so that their influence on legislation could be 
exercised directly as well as indirectly. Finally, the new 
unity of the national organization was so strong that the 
delegates present at the convention, though they were well 
aware of the fact that the resolutions passed there were 
binding on the national body but not on the local Associa- 
tions which they represented, nevertheless felt a personal 
commitment and a loyalty to the whole which had not 
been present in the earlier days. 

The Social Ideals of the Churches included specific rec- 
ommendations in regard to social legislation and the prin- 
ciples of industrial justice. The principles involved in the 
statements in regard to the right of workers to organize 
and the desirability of collective bargaining were at the 
time of the adoption of the Social Ideals, and have been 
later, the center of the greatest discussion and of the most 
1 68 



Strains and Stresses 



serious problems that the Association has faced in endeav- 
oring to uphold its action. To many women present at 
that convention some of the ideas expressed in this social 
creed were at least strange, if not distasteful, and only 
recognition of the fact that the large group of industrial 
women and girls in the Association membership considered 
such action essential if the Association purpose was to have 
any meaning for them ? brought their endorsement. It was 
a fellowship experience, in that the whole Association 
shared with and took on responsibility for the particular 
problems of one group. 

Shortly after this adoption of the Social Ideals a legisla- 
tive service was instituted by the National Board, to fur- 
nish information to local Associations on proposals in state 
legislatures and in Congress. This has since become the 
National Committee on Public Affairs. State members of 
the committee follow state legislation and work with local 
Associations in their respective states, to the end that the 
Associations may have essential information and that their 
efforts may be effective. 

Another early interest of the Young Women's Christian 
Association in the field of public questions was peace. The 
following resolution in favor of arbitration was presented 
to and accepted by the International Conference of 
Women's Christian Associations in 1889: 

Resolved, That we, the delegates of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations, do hereby declare ourselves in favor 
of arbitration as a substitute for war at all times, and express 
it as our conviction that every Christian woman should use 
her influence against the war spirit, and against anything 
that encourages it, especially among the young. 

It was moved, seconded and passed to adopt this resolu- 

169 



History of a Social Institution 



tion, and further ordered that the report be embodied in the 
Journal. 6 

After the forming o the present national organization 
of the Young Women's Christian Association in 1906, an 
increasing interest was shown in the whole question of 
international relations and of world situations. This in- 
terest has expressed itself through three main currents of 
effort which are closely related and play into each other: 
membership in the World's Association, by which the 
Associations in this country are connected with the Associa- 
tions of other countries, contributions of professional staff 
and funds to Associations in less developed countries $ 
education and citizenship work in behalf of international 
relations and world peace. In 1915 the first convention 
action of the Young Women's Christian Association con- 
cerning world peace appears in the records. The national 
convention of that year, the last one to meet until 1920, 
expressed its desire for "peace when it can be had with 
righteousness," 7 and wired President Wilson its hope that 
this country might "take an active part in bringing about a 
world-wide cessation of war." Less than two years after- 
ward the United States entered the World War. 

After the World War the interest in peace and in inter- 
national relations was continued, as is evidenced by con- 
vention actions from 1922 to 1930. Probably the most 
significant statement on internationalism ever recorded 
officially by the World's Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation was that made at its 1922 meeting at St. Wolf- 
gang, Austria. The statement, which is an addition to the 
"Aim" of the World's Association, is as follows: 

It [the World's Young Women's Christian Association] 
also calls all national Associations to promote Christian prin- 

170 



Strains and Stresses 



cfples of social and international conduct by encouraging the 
development of a right public conscience such as shall 
strengthen all those forces which are working for the pro- 
motion of peace and better understanding between classes, 
nations and races; believing that the world social order can 
only be made Christian through individuals devoted to the 
single purpose of doing God's will, and that through obedi- 
ence to the law of Christ there shall follow the extension of 
his kingdom in which the principles of justice, love and the 
equal value of every human life shall apply to national and 
international as well as to personal relations. 8 

Previous to this World's Young Women's Christian 
Association meeting, the commission which prepared this 
statement had sent it to the various national organizations 
for their comment and approval. This statement came to 
the Seventh National Convention of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations in 1922, and was endorsed by the 
convention in the following resolution: 

That the principles enumerated in the statement regarding 
the relationships between classes, nations and races, issued 
by the World's Executive Committee, be endorsed by this 
convention; and that the National Board be authorized to 
instruct the delegates to the World's Committee meeting to 
vote in favor of the incorporation of such principles in the 
constitution of the World's Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation. 8 

Since that time the World's Executive Committee, as 
well as the National Board, has repeatedly referred to this 
statement as authority for various concrete actions taken in 
regard to international affairs. 

The 1922 convention also voted in favor of the out- 
lawry of war, and in that same year the National Board 

171 



History of a Social Institution 



joined the Women's Joint Congressional Committee in 
order to work in Washington in behalf of measures which 
many of the women's organizations had agreed to pro- 
mote. In 1924 the New York convention voted approval 
of the entrance of the United States into the League of 
Nations. It was in that year that the World's Committee 
of the Young Women's Christian Association held its 
meeting in Washington, just following the national con- 
vention in New York. In 1926 the National Board joined 
the Conference on the Cause and Cure of War, and from 
that time has cooperated actively in its annual conferences. 
In 1928 the national convention endorsed the efforts of 
the government "to further the negotiations of a multi- 
lateral treaty of the Great Powers for the renunciation of 
war as an instrument of national policy." Probably no one 
factor has so strengthened the international relations pro- 
gram of the Young Women's Christian Association as has 
this active and continuous connection with other women's 
organizations. 

The effectiveness of these policies of the national Asso- 
ciation rises and falls according to the manner in which 
they are carried out by the local Associations, but work 
in behalf of international relations is recorded in steadily 
rising crescendo in the reports of the National Board to 
the conventions, which trace programs on the field. 

This interest in international affairs, and in particular 
the organization of the world for peace, drew its emphasis 
from many-sided Association activities. The Young 
Women's Christian Association has an historic responsi- 
bility for the spread of the Association movement to other 
lands. Added to this is the work in the United States 
with the foreign-born, which includes an understanding 
172 



Strains and Stresses 



of their foreign backgrounds and appreciation of the cul- 
tural heritage which they bring to America, together with 
the ever enlarging part played by the American Associa- 
tion in the World's Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion. To these natural channels of interest might be added 
the historic missionary compulsion of the Protestant 
church; the constant coming and going of Association rep- 
resentatives, including many Americans, between the vari- 
ous national movements, and the inherent concern, always 
characteristic of the Association, for the environment in 
which the individual lives, which today means the world. 
It is not to be wondered at that international interest is 
strong. It is stronger as well as more flexible than would 
be the case if this interest were centered on only one 
aspect of world affairs. Through its growing understand- 
ing of the processes by which changes are brought about, 
the leadership of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion seems to appreciate the fact that the strain, or tension, 
of working on these great problems of which the Associa- 
tion is a part is not a calamity, in spite of difficulties in- 
volved, but rather an essential step in the slow evolution 
of human society. 

In addition to its concern with industrial and interna- 
tional questions the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion has also carried a continuing interest in interracial 
questions. As early as 1893 a Young Women's Christian 
Association for colored women was organized in Dayton, 
Ohio. As far as the records show, this body was on friendly 
relations with the Young Women's Christian Association 
of Dayton but was not organically a part of it. Similar 
work with Negroes grew up in New York, Brooklyn and 
other cities. At some period not clear from the records 

173 



History of a Social Institution 



but not later than 1906, when the present national body 
was formed, the policy was adopted of opening, where the 
numbers of Negroes warranted it, a branch Association in 
the Negro community rather than a separate organization. 
The conceptions back of this policy were varied. The ideals 
of inclusiveness and of participation seemed to play a part. 
The desire that the Young Women's Christian Association 
should be for all women and girls, regardless of race or 
creed, was, however, combined with a realistic appreciation 
of the difficulties involved in such common participation 
in activities. There was also the practical question of finan- 
cial support, which must come from the white community 
whether it was for the central Association or for the branch 
for Negro women and girls. 

The opportunity for developing Negro leadership 
through responsibility in Association work was also recog- 
nized, and gradually the control of the branches in the 
Negro communities came almost entirely into the hands 
of Negro women, both as lay committees of management 
and as employed staff. In the northern part of the country 
Negro women representing the Negro branch sit on the 
general boards of directors and take their part in the 
development of the Association in the whole community. 
In like manner the Negro staff are a part of the whole 
4 and share in the general staff and Association activities. 
The extent to which this participation is easy and far- 
reaching differs from place to place and is largely deter- 
mined by the community attitudes toward Negroes and the 
proportion of Negro to white population. 

The question has been raised, both by Negroes and by 
white leaders who are particularly concerned with rela- 
tionships between the races, as to whether the plan of 
developing branches for Negro women and girls in Negro 



Strains and Stresses 



communities is a policy of segregation. This has, as far as 
records show, never been a clear issue in the Association. 
The policy of developing branches in different communi- 
ties is a general one, and the opportunity for developing 
Negro leadership has seemed to depend largely on this 
type of organization. There is evidence that in some places 
Negro women and girls not living in the Negro community 
but coming to the central Association are referred to the 
Negro branch if they wish to enter activities. In other 
places there is a sprinkling of Negro women and girls in 
the general activities of the Association regardless of 
whether there is or is not a branch in the Negro commu- 
nity. Certainly there is increasing participation by Negro 
women and girls in the Association as a whole. This can 
be seen in the movements of industrial girls, of business 
girls, and in the national convention itself. The whole 
matter of interracial questions and interracial relations ap- 
pears to have been worked out on the trial and error 
method, with little or no official policy or action. 

A chapter on the strains and stresses of the Young 
Women's Christian Association can hardly be closed with- 
out some reference to the question of religion. From the 
earliest days, differences of opinion in regard to the poli- 
cies and practices of the Association as a religious organi- 
zation have been in evidence. The issue of whether a rigid 
theological statement or a more general expression of 
intent should be accepted as a basis of membership was 
back of the forming of two separate national organizations 
and of their remaining separate until 1906. From 1913 
until the present day there has been no national convention 
that did not raise in some form the question of the way 
in which the Christian basis of the organization should be 

175 



History of a Social Institution 



stated. As in many other instances, the Association has 
seemed to tend toward a middle course, and thus to lose 
from its leadership both the most conservative religiously 
and those who have little interest in an expressed Christian 
purpose. From its critics apparently the Association has 
always been between two cross-fires from those who con- 
sider that the organization is far too religious and that it 
attempts to take the place of the church or even tends to 
become a denomination in itself , and from those who con- 
sider it to be living under false pretenses when it retains 
the word Christian in the name, in view of the emphasis 
in its program on so-called secular activities and the lack 
of any direct preaching and teaching of the Christian 
faith. It is important to note that there has never been any 
distinction of creed in the non-voting membership. 

The sum total of hearsay evidence seems to show that 
the Young Women's Christian Association in the United 
States is in general considered to be a religious organiza- 
tion largely influenced by liberal Protestantism, if not con- 
trolled by it, and bearing a close relation to the Protestant 
church. This conception is at variance with the avowed 
intent of the organization, as expressed both by national 
and international bodies, to be ecumenical in philosophy 
and to welcome not only as participants in program but 
as leaders in the movement representatives of all Chris- 
tian communions. 

Plainly the Young Women's Christian Association has 
not hesitated to take part in controversial questions and 
to throw its influence on what it conceived to be the side 
of right from a Christian viewpoint when those questions 
patently involved the welfare of women and girls and in 
particular women and girls actively represented in its 
membership. 

176 



Simins and Stresses 



SOURCES 

1 Park and Burgess. Introduction to the Science of Sociology 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1921), p. 874. 

2 Report of the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the 
Women's and Young Women's Christian Associations of the 
United States and Canada (Memphis, 1899), International 
Messenger, VI (February, 1900), p. 144. 

3 Editorial notice. Faith and Works > I (September, 1875), 
p. 6. 

4 Coman, Jean. "Working Girls' Homes Should They Be 
Made Self-Supporting?" Journal of the Eleventh Biennial 
Conference of the International Board of Women's Christian 
Associations (Chicago, 1891), pp. 59-62. 

5 Unpublished records of the National Board. 

6 Journal of the Tenth Biennial Meeting of the Interna- 
tional Conference of Women's Christian Associations (Balti- 
more, 1889), p. 25. 

7 Report of the Fifth National Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of 
America (Los Angeles, 1915), pp. 95-96. 

8 Report of the Seventh National Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (Hot Springs, 1922), pp. 133-134. 

GENERAL REFERENCES 

Interacting International Relations and the Young 
Women's Christian Association (Issued by the Publicity De- 
partment and Committee on Public Affairs, National Board, 
Young Women's Christian Associations, New York, 1930). 

Sims, Mary S. The First Twenty-five Years (New York: 
The Womans Press, 1932). 

Unpublished records and minutes of the Public Affairs Com- 
mittee. 



177 



CHAPTER IX 

The 'Young Women's Christian Association in 
Times of Crisis 

THE widespread organization of the Young Women's 
Christian Association and its varied program for 
women and girls have given it both opportunity and re- 
sponsibility in times of crisis, regardless of whether the 
crisis was economic or that of war. It is interesting to notice 
that the first women who made use of the first Young 
Women's Christian Association residence included "nine 
nurses from the Crimean War, three matrons of immi- 
grant ships, and two foreigners." This was in London in 
1855. The original source of the quotation has been lost, 
but both tradition and history show that the return of the 
nurses from the Crimean War was a main factor in the 
organization of the program of the first Young Women's 
Christian Association in London. 

On March 18, 1920, the Honorable Newton D. Baker, 
then Secretary of War, wrote as follows to the chairman 
of the War Work Council of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association: 

For the things which you have accomplished as broad- 
minded, far-visioned women, I am grateful. War, as far as 
our armed forces are concerned, is a part of the past. As citi- 
zens of this country, however, we have an important duty 
to perform in the readjustment of our economic and social 
conditions, and in the establishment of our minds to meet the 

178 



In Times of Crisis 



new situation in which our country now finds itself. I am 
confident that the same self-sacrificing interest and devo- 
tion, which did so much to bring the war to a successful con- 
clusion, will lead you to undertake this larger and more 
definite problem, 1 

Like all other agencies, social and religious, the work 
of the Young Women's Christian Association was deeply 
affected by the World War. It was not, however, until 
April 1917, when the United States entered the war, that 
a serious attempt was made in this country to organize the 
resources of the organization for national service. Almost 
immediately upon the declaration of war, inquiries as to 
how best to serve women and girls in this time of emer- 
gency began to pour into headquarters. In the summer of 
1916, because of the concentration of troops on the Mexi- 
can border, the national Association had begun special 
work with girls at San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, and 
Douglas, Arizona, in cooperation with the local Associa- 
tions. This experience stood the organization in good stead. 
Moreover, as a result of years of hard work, the Young 
Women's Christian Association was an established organi- 
zation nationally as well as locally, with work in every 
state and a wide knowledge of the needs and desires of 
women and girls. Representatives of the national Young 
Women's Christian Association were in the first groups 
called to Washington to face with the government the 
tremendous demands of those critical days. It was no small 
thing to be able to say that the 129 members of the na- 
tional staff could be used at once in this work and that all 
the resources of the organization would be at the disposal 
of the government for the benefit of women and girls. 

179 



History of a Social Institution 



Very soon after the declaration of war the National 
Board appointed a small committee which should be re- 
sponsible for the war work. It was soon evident, however, 
that a small committee could not meet the rapidly growing 
demands. At a specially called meeting of the Field Work 
Department on May 15, 1917, authorization was given 
for the appointment of a "War Work Council of the Na- 
tional Board of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tions." This action was ratified by the National Board on 
May 23, 1917. To this body was given full responsibility 
for all war emergency work, both in the United States 
and abroad. The executive of the Field Work Department 
was made the executive secretary of this council and all the 
resources of personnel and equipment of the National 
Board were put at its service. 

On June 6, 1917, this War Work Council held its first 
called conference, to discuss the needs, to determine policy 
and to decide upon a budget. At that time a budget of 
$1,000,000 was voted and the work of the council stated 
to be as follows: 

The indirect service which it can give by recommending 
and paying the salaries of such trained Association workers 
as the Federal Commission on Training Camp Activities 
asks the National Board to provide. 

Direct work in the name of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association, under the following divisions: 

Extension of work where there are Associations. 
Organized work in new centers. 
Unorganized work. 

The purpose and the aim were to be the "aim and pur- 
pose of all Association work," and the program of activities 
was to be "the usual program of the Association." 2 
1 80 



In Times of Crisis 



Even before that time the Association had embarked 
upon a considerable program of emergency service, in- 
cluding: 

Investigation of Russian needs and possibilities. 
Correspondence with French women with regard to 
work in France. 
Club work: 

Plattsburg, New York. 

Junction City, Kansas (Fort Riley). 

Atlanta, Georgia. 
Hostess Houses: 

Plattsburg, New York. 

Fort Niagara, New York. 2 

It was evident that the Association's experience in deal- 
ing with and knowledge of women and girls were needed. 
The first piece of work done for the government was at 
the training camp for officers at Plattsburg Barracks, New 
York. This was the first time that women, other than 
nurses, had ever been permitted inside a United States 
army camp for work. Within ten days from the time that 
Colonel Wolfe staked out the plot the building was up and 
officially opened. It was hardly more than a hut, with 
kitchenette attachment, dressing and rest rooms and com- 
fortable wicker furniture, intended to provide for the needs 
of visitors to 5,000 men. A service and hospitality program 
for women was quickly under way, with the enthusiastic 
support of the commanding officer. 

This concrete and definite proof of the ability of the 
organization to work rapidly and to provide trained lead- 
ership had, no doubt, much to do with the increased re- 
sponsibility laid upon the organization. The Young 
Women's Christian Association became one of the seven 

181 



History of a Social Institution 



national organizations which mobilized their work under 
the United States government during the war period. 
During this time its war work was financed through the 
united war work campaigns, and was carried on under 
instructions received directly from the government. 

The unique contribution of the War Work Council of 
the Young Women's Christian Association to the govern- 
ment's activities was its emphasis on the interests of 
women. It was the only women's organization in the group 
of seven officially recognized organizations. During the 
entire war period it was administered by women and served 
as a continual reminder of their service and their needs. 

The work done was in line with the purpose and the 
program of the Young Women's Christian Association 
before the war. It was because of this previous experience 
that the Association was called upon for war service. Noth- 
ing was undertaken which was new to its policy and which 
would not have been done at any time if the need and the 
opportunity had presented. "Where it could, it used the 
high road; where it was necessary, it blazed new trails. 
But always there was one objective the needs of the; 
women and girls of this and of other countries." 1 The 
very nature of the Young Women's Christian Association 
keeps it inevitably at the center of problems affecting 
women and girls. In a time of crisis like the World War 
that meant a constant facing of new conditions, a close 
connection with the activities of the War Department of 
the United States government and a constant rapid mobil- 
ity. As troops moved so did women and so did the Young 
Women's Christian Association. In this country, as the 
needs increased, the program included work for women 
visitors in camps and work in communities around camps 
182 



In Times of Crisis 



and navy yards and in large manufacturing centers par- 
ticularly affected by war conditions. 

WORK IN THE UNITED STATES 

Under trained leadership, centers for recreation and 
club work were opened. In those places where there were 
local Young Women's Christian Associations they were 
helped to meet war conditions by the opening of special 
centers in appropriate parts of the town, by the establish- 
ment of branches for special groups of girls, or by making 
possible a larger staff of workers. In all, work was carried 
on in 198 different communities as well as in the CanaJ 
Zone and in Honolulu. 

Hostess house work was developed as a service to 
women visitors in camps. There were 116 such centers 
in army training camps, four in naval stations, two in 
marine and two in hospital camps, seven in cities which 
were embarkation and debarkation ports, and in addition, 
seven in Hawaii and two in Porto Rico. 

One of the most unexpected but interesting pieces of 
service was the care of the war brides. More than 3,000 
brides and 383 children were taken care of by the Young 
Women's Christian Association. Much of this work was 
done at the French ports before embarkation. In addition, 
many of the war brides traveled under the care of the 
Young Women's Christian Association and were met by 
Association workers on their arrival in America. 

The War Work Council, through its Housing Com- 
mittee, made practical demonstration of housing for 
women war workers, both in connection with camps and 

183 



History of a Social Institution 



factories working on war supplies and in Washington it- 
self. Early in the war a pamphlet containing practical sug- 
gestions with regard to housing women and plans for tem- 
porary buildings was published by the Housing Committee 
and sent broadcast through the country, to be used by 
corporations and groups of people employing women. 
From this experience the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation learned much that has since proved useful par- 
ticularly about simplicity of structure and how to provide 
attractive, cheerful furnishings inexpensively. It learned 
the psychological value of bright chintzes and gay furni- 
ture, in marked contrast to the genteel fawns and greys 
of the preceding period. At two camps, Upton and Dix, 
the committee built and maintained Players' Houses to 
care for the entertainers sent out by the Commission on 
Training Camp Activities. 

War conditions made evident the deplorable lack of 
facilities for recreation and amusement for the colored 
girls and women in this country. In addition, large num- 
bers of colored girls and women were entering industry 
for the first time. A Committee on Colored Work of the 
War Work Council was organized. Its first and most 
important task was to secure leaders and volunteer workers 
who could be trained for positions of responsibility. 
Through this committee, hostess house work was carried 
on in seventeen camps, and in forty-nine communities ser- 
vice centers for colored women and girls were organized. 
Work was also carried on in eight industrial centers, three 
of which were in munition factories. 

During this period of intense nationalism there was 
constant likelihood of a misunderstanding of foreign 



In Times of Crisis 



people. Not only was there need of interpreting their 
point of view to the people of America but there was also 
the necessity for helping them to understand the war-time 
regulations of the government. The work of the Young 
Women's Christian Association for foreign-born women 
and girls fell in the main into four parts: (i) An Inter- 
national Translation and Service Bureau whose function 
was to give every kind of service possible through the 
medium of print in foreign languages. This meant trans- 
lating bulletins sent out from government offices, sending 
articles to foreign language newspapers explaining in 
simple detail how the draft was working, what the Red 
Cross was for, and similar services. (2) Additional work 
in foreign communities on the same principles as those 
which the Association had already found successful in its 
International Institutes but with a program adapted to the 
emergency situation. In many instances this meant work in 
communities near large camps or near munition centers. 
(3) Home Information Service for the foreign families of 
enlisted men. This meant putting into camps and war- 
affected communities workers who were interested in for- 
eign people, who spoke the necessary languages, and who 
could interpret the camp situation to those at home and 
keep the men in the camps in touch with their homes in 
this country and, if possible, in the old country. Nine 
camps had such hostesses speaking foreign languages. 

The fourth type of work carried on for the foreign- 
born was the inter-country work. This involved the locat- 
ing of refugees' relatives, protection at the ports, and help- 
ing foreign people in America in their efforts to be of 
service to their suffering countrymen both here and 
abroad. One part of this work was the provision of train- 
ing centers where Polish-American young women migltf fit 

185 



History of a Social Institution 



themselves to go back to Poland for service after the war. 
The women thus trained were known as the Polish Grey 
Samaritans and some forty of them gave conspicuous ser- 
vice in this fashion. On the Mexican border, work was 
established with incoming and outgoing Mexicans. Hospi- 
tality houses were stationed near the bridges, caring for 
hundreds of women and children daily. 

Twenty industrial service centers were opened near 
munition plants or in industrial communities. The work 
of these centers helped to sustain the morale of industrial 
women by providing activities sufficiently varied to meet 
the need of a strangely mixed group recreation of all 
kinds, clubs, opportunity for study, a center of friendliness 
and good will. In some places big cafeterias were opened, 
where food could be obtained at a reasonable price 3 in 
other places a room registry service for housing was main- 
tained. The only requirement for admission to the privi- 
leges of the center was the taking of the following pledge 
of service: 

It is my desire to serve to the best of my capacity in the 
ranks of the Woman's Industrial Army. I pledge my loyalty 
by promoting in every way possible the spirit of service and 
good will in my work and community. 2 

In the very beginning of the war period the National 
Board recognized the possibility that standards of indus- 
trial and social legislation would be let down because of 
the pressure for production. At the National Board meet- 
ing on May 23, 1917, the following resolution was passed: 

That a telegram be sent to Governor Whitman from the 
National Board urging that the present labor legislation be 
upheld. 3 

186 



In Times of Crisis 



In the discussion preceding this resolution it was 
"urged that every member of the board inform herself 
as to the labor legislation which now exists and to stand 
for its being upheld." 

A Commission on Social Morality, already established as 
part of the Young Women's Christian Association health 
program, promoted a lecture program for communities 
surrounding camps and other centers. In order to facilitate 
its presentation a tangible relation to some government 
agency was negotiated. This eventuated in the establishing 
of a section on women's work in the Social Hygiene Divi- 
sion of the Commission on Training Camp Activities of 
the War Department* Later on, a Bureau of Social Edu- 
cation initiated a program of health education through 
physical examinations, lectures upon general health topics, 
and instructions with regard to proper and wholesome 
food, clothes and daily living. From June i, 1917, to July 
i, 1919, ii 3 273 lectures by 183 lecturers were given in 
1,204 communities to more than 1,500,000 women and 
girls. 

The crowning effort of this group was the convening, 
in October 1919, of the first international conference of 
women physicians. This conference was held at the na- 
tional headquarters and there were present thirty women 
physicians from fourteen countries. 

A Junior War Work Council was also organized in 
June 1917 to assist the War Work Council. This group 
concentrated its efforts largely on work with younger girls 
in communities near camps, operating particularly through 
the Patriotic League. 

187 



History of a Social Institution 



OVERSEAS WORK 

The overseas work of the Young Women's Christian 
Association was not a deliberately planned effort but was 
undertaken in response to appeals from the women of 
both France and Russia, and only after thorough investi- 
gation and in the firm conviction that the Young Women's 
Christian Association, as a women's organization, was able 
to give a service for women which was greatly needed and 
would in no way duplicate the work of any other agency. 
All other welfare organizations had men as their first 
objective. A women's organization was needed in order 
to keep intact women's point of view, and to serve women 
as they should be served. 

The work with French women in munition factories was 
done directly in cooperation with the French War De- 
partment. The work with women serving the A.E.F. was 
done in cooperation with the United States Army. In co- 
operation with the Red Cross, nurses' clubs furnishing 
opportunities for rest, recreation and companionship were 
developed in connection with the base hospitals. Of the 
12,000 nurses with the American Expeditionary Forces in 
France it is estimated that 8,000 were served directly or 
indirectly through these nurses' clubs. 

In response to the need not only of nurses but of all 
American war workers in France, the Young Women's 
Christian Association established a series of hostess houses 
where transient women could find lodgings, permanently 
stationed women a home, and both men and women could 
procure good meals at a reasonable cost and enjoy Ameri- 
can hospitality. Three of these houses were opened in 
188 



In Times of Crisis 



Paris, others in the provinces, and after the Armistice, in 
connection with the army of occupation in Germany. All 
signal corps girls were housed by the Young Women's 
Christian Association. Later there was opened up port work 
for foreign war brides of American soldiers and hostess 
house work at the military cemeteries. Much of the other 
work of the American Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion in France also lasted into the months following the 
close of the war. Its object was to carry hospitality, to pro- 
vide adequate housing, to meet situations as they arose, and 
to be ready to give resourceful help in emergencies. Part of 
this work, particularly the foyer work with French girls 
in Paris and other cities, was taken over by the French 
Young Women's Christian Association. The last Young 
Women's Christian Association worker was recalled from 
the military cemeteries in June 1925. Since that time the 
hostess work there has been done by the United States 
government. 

At the request of Russian women, work was started also 
in Russia, in the spring of 1917, in Petrograd, and a be- 
ginning was made in Moscow. The political conditions 
were, however, changing rapidly and eventually the work 
had to be withdrawn. 

The work as developed in European countries empha- 
sized the training of indigenous leadership which should 
take over and maintain whatever part of the program was 
wanted and needed in that country. In certain countries 
Association work already existed in small compass. This 
work was aided and strengthened. 

The Polish Grey Samaritans, already mentioned, went 
to Poland as the guests of the Polish government and as 

189 



History of a Social Institution 



part of the American Relief Administration to help in 
child feeding and social service. After the war period was 
over the social service work that they had started was 
merged with that of other organizations. 

In Czechoslovakia, workers sent by the Young Women's 
Christian Association at the request of Alice Masaryk, 
daughter of President Masaryk, to make a social work 
survey, later established a social service training school 
and developed a program of social service. As a result of 
this work a request came for the organization of a Young 
Women's Christian Association movement in Czechoslo- 
vakia. This movement is now an independent national 
Association, a corresponding member of the World's 
Young Women's Christian Association. 

The work started in Russia in 1917 was never resumed, 
but in 1921 two members of the staff of the Young 
Women's Christian Association, who had worked in Russia 
and spoke Russian, were attached to Colonel Haskell's 
staff of the American Relief Administration and went to 
Russia to assist in refugee feeding. 

In Rumania and in certain centers of the Near East 
where there had never previously been Young Women's 
Christian Association work, beginnings were made which 
developed into Young Women's Christian Associations. 

In Italy, Switzerland and Belgium the service carried 
by American units was made part of the already existing 
work. There were, in all, serving in Europe under the 
Overseas Committee of the War Work Council, 407 work- 
ers in nine countries. 

This war work of the Association, which amounted 
really to an interlude of some two or three years, has 
been related at length because in many ways it seems to 
190 



In Times of Crisis 



have been the end and the beginning of definite periods 
of Association history. It was the end in the sense that 
all the experience and knowledge of women and girls that 
the Association had acquired over its fifty years of history 
were called upon, mobilized and used in those years for 
the benefit of women and girls not only in this country 
but in most countries of the world. At the same time it 
brought power and prestige and expansion to the organi- 
zation which it had never had and probably had never 
wanted and had certainly never previously visualized.* 

In common with the whole world, much of the time 
of the organization in the years since the close of the war 
has been given to reducing and changing the work after 
this rapid and in many cases transitory growth. 

While the World War was the most spectacular crisis 
in which the Association has ever taken part, what was 
done then is probably of less significance than the part 
which the Association has played in the question of unem- 
ployment, over the years. As early as 1876 we find the 
Philadelphia Association making the following state- 
ments: 4 

As we review our work during these months of business 
and financial depression, a season of unusual trial to work- 
ing-women, and extraordinary demands upon our Associ- 
ation, we acknowledge with grateful hearts, "Hitherto hath 
the Lord helped us;" and, with a deep sense of the "good- 
ness and mercy which have followed us" since the day of 
our organization, we enter upon another year with renewed 
vigor in the prosecution of the work which the Master has 
committed to us. 

* Particular acknowledgment is due to Mrs. James Stewart Cushman, 
chairman of the War Work Council of the National Board, for assistance 
in clarifying and amplifying the records of the War Work Council. 

191 



History of a Social Institution 



Applications for help are received and situations of every 
kind are procured for those applying. The plan of registra- 
tion enables them to secure reliable reference, so that only 
those who are worthy are received as applicants, and the re- 
sult is that the office is becoming the resort of the more 
respectable classes. A marked improvement is also found in 
the increased number of persons seeking a higher order of 
employment, and in the demand for those able to fill posi- 
tions requiring skilled and educated labor. 

And the Providence Association states: 

The past year has been the most depressing for the board- 
ers since the establishment of the Home; it seemed almost 
impossible to find employment sufficiently remunerative to 
pay the smallest board and leave anything for clothing. 

Some of the skilled tailoresses who, six years since, could 
command their own prices, are now seeking other employ- 
ment. Temptations to evil are strong in these times of de- 
pression, and words from us of encouragement and interest 
should be equally strong. We endeavor to reduce the board, 
to meet individual cases, without infringing upon their self- 
respect and independence. Our motto from the beginning 
has been, "To help those who help themselves." 5 

In the International Messenger for May 1900 appears 
the following statement: 

The relations of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion with the unemployed began early in its history. I can 
here but note in merest outline what they have grown to be. 

In the business world there are times when it is difficult 
for even a skilled worker to obtain employment. But in 
ordinary times, as a rule, the unemployed girl is the ineffi- 
cient girl, lacking the knowledge to enable her to do any 
one thing well. 

192 



In Times of Crisis 



The attitude of the Association toward her has ever been 
a beneficent one. Time, thought and prayer have been ex- 
pended in devising wise ways of helping her to become a 
self-respecting member of society and not merely a skilled 
worker. 6 

In the third annual report of the Ladies' Christian Asso- 
ciation of Memphis in 1879, to the convention of the 
International Board, the report is made of the way in 
which the Memphis Association assisted in relief following 
an epidemic of fever in that city. It is inserted here to 
show how at that early period Associations endeavored 
to meet critical local situations: 

The most of our year's work has been done since the 
fever. At the suggestion of the Ladies' Christian Association, 
the Mayor employed three ladies to assist in the distribution 
of the relief sent to his care. We visited each family, investi- 
gating their circumstances before recommending them as 
worthy or needy objects. It was a laborious task, performed 
in midwinter, but it seemed the only way to reach those 
whom we desired to aid, and to withhold from the unde- 
serving. Poor human nature is so grasping that those with 
comfortable means of support were as eager to obtain the 
charity sent to yellow fever sufferers as thos who had 
suddenly lost every source of income. To convey an idea of 
what was done, I will give an estimate of what was dis- 
bursed by the Mayor's relief at the recommendation of these 
ladies: | | 

$1,042 in orders on the grocers for provisions, no order 
exceeding $4; $40.50 in transportation; 54 barrels of flour, 
and 22,995 pounds of flour in sacks containing 25 or 50 
pounds each; 2,800 pounds of beans; 1,606 barrels of coal, 
never giving over five barrels to one family; 129 blankets, 

193 



History of a Social Institution 



128 pairs of shoes, besides clothing, cots, mattresses and 
other things, as we had them to give. . . . 

On assisting a family we always try, if possible, to put 
them in a condition to sustain themselves. 7 

In all the economic depressions that have occurred since 
the forming of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion, the local Associations have followed similar pro- 
grams: that of endeavoring to find work when there was 
any and of helping with relief in the form of food, shelter 
and clothing, those who were without work. It is interest- 
ing to find that the national organization was concerned 
about the underlying causes and the dangers of unemploy- 
ment long before concern was shown by the general public. 
At the convention of 1922 the following resolution was 
adopted: 

Resolved: That the Association study this problem [un- 
employment], its causes and possible methods of prevention, 
using for this purpose the conference method, bringing to- 
gether all elements in the Association. 8 

The next convention, at New York in 1924, considered 
the problem from the position of the employment service 
itself, and adopted the following resolution: 

Be it resolved: That it be the responsibility of the em- 
ployment service 

i. To stabilize employment by reducing labor turnover, 
and by considering seasonal unemployment. 9 

No further action was taken by conventions until 1928, 
when, although the country was in the full tide of pros- 
perity, the unemployment situation was seriously affecting 
both the industrial and business membership of the Asso- 
194 



In Times of Crisis 



ciation. At this convention the following resolution was 
adopted: 

1. That local Associations study facts of unemployment 
in their communities and get these to the public mind. 

2. That local Associations study methods for meeting the 
problems of unemployment, and work with other commu- 
nity organizations in a constructive program of education 
and action. 

3. That local Associations support their business and in- 
dustrial women's departments in their particular efforts in 
the next two years to find ways to meet this problem, and 
suggest that the employment departments take a special 
responsibility in this work. 

4. That the National Board cooperate in the study of 
unemployment with a view to helping in the promotion 
of adequate protective and remedial measures in the stabili- 
zation of employment for business and industrial women. 10 

The early awareness of this situation on the part of the 
Young Women's Christian Association was undoubtedly 
owing to the fact that within its membership were large 
numbers of girls employed in industry and in business 
who were themselves feeling the effects of unemployment. 
In spite of these resolutions it is not until the depression 
of the nineteen-thirties that local Associations all over the 
country showed an active interest in the study of the 
causes of unemployment and began to take action in sup- 
port of measures which might help to alleviate these situ- 
ations. Meanwhile, unemployment was rapidly increasing 
in seriousness, and at the time of the national convention 
in Detroit, in April 1930, it was seen as a menace to our 
sense of security and as affecting women and girls more 
directly and more widely than any similar crisis in the 
past. Unemployment and its effect on women and girls, 

195 



History of a Social Institution 



as well as possible remedies for the underlying causes o 
recurrent crises of unemployment, were discussed in the 
Industrial and the Business and Professional Assemblies as 
well as in sixteen of the discussion groups into which the 
body of delegates divided for three periods. As a result 
of this discussion, the three so-called Wagner Bills con- 
cerned with unemployment were endorsed by the conven- 
tion. The bills provided for: 

1 . Long-range planning of public works, . 

2. Cooperation of the federal government in the mainte- 
nance of state and municipal public employment offices. 

3. Collection of statistics concerning unemployment by 
the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor. 

As the senate committee was dealing with the bills while 
the convention was in session, a further resolution author- 
ized the sending of a message from the convention to the 
senate committee, urging the passage of these bills. At the 
same time individual delegates and visitors were asked to 
send similar messages to their senators. The sending of 
these messages and the receipt of an answering wire from 
Senator Wagner gave to the convention a sense of direct 
participation in a matter of public welfare that added real- 
ity to its function of determining national polity. 

The national Association as well as the local Associa- 
tions early recognized the necessity of adjusting program 
to meet the needs of girls and young women in the eco- 
nomic situation. In the fall of 1930 a national conference 
was called to discuss the responsibility of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations in meeting this emer- 
gency. As a result, specific program plans were sent out to 
local Associations. In these plans Associations were urged 
196 



In Times of Crisis 



to play their part in the entire community situation and 
to work with other agencies in endeavoring to adjust their 
programs to meet it. 

In the first years particularly, the work of the employ- 
ment bureaus was much increased. The first three months 
of 1930 brought an increase in applicants of thirty-two per 
cent over the corresponding months of the previous year. 
The situation became rapidly so serious that many Asso- 
ciations began to take part in the organizing of "made 
work." The Young Women's Christian Association in one 
city, Los Angeles, initiated a plan which resulted in an 
appropriation of $120,000 by the city for "made work" for 
women. More than half this amount was administered 
through the Association. 

Meanwhile the Young Women's Christian Association 
was called upon to take responsibility for administering 
relief to women and girls who had no near relatives and 
no margin of savings, particularly the so-called white-collar 
girl. A large number of women and girls served in this 
way provided an entirely new clientele for the Association. 
In 1930, sixty-seven Associations reported that seventy- 
seven per cent of the people to whom they gave relief had 
been unknown to them before. 

First-hand knowledge of the problems which in normal 
times confront women workers of all types industrial, 
clerical, mercantile and professional, of varying creed, 
color and nationality comes to the Association through 
its clubs and activities. Unemployment bore down particu- 
larly heavily on the Negro and the foreign-born. These 
workers, because of their meager earnings, discrimination 
against them in employment, and inadequacy of relief pro- 
vided for them in their communities, were in a serious 
plight. The Young Women's Christian Association in 

197 



History of a Social Institution 



many places made special efforts to change public attitudes 
and to give help to these groups. 

As the depression went on and relief was more ade- 
quately organized through public agencies. Associations 
turned more and more of their efforts toward the con- 
structive use of leisure time. Free classes were organized 
for the unemployed, including bookkeeping, sewing and 
study classes. Typewriters were provided so that typists 
out of work could keep up their speed. Girls were given 
the opportunity and the materials to recondition their own 
clothing and to keep up their appearance in every way. 
At the same time, groups were being organized to study 
the underlying causes of and remedies for unemployment. 
The amount of free recreation was greatly increased and 
a more diversified program offered, including music, roller 
skating, folk festivals, social dancing, teas, swimming and 
dramatics, 

A carefully guarded principle of the Association during 
this period was that women and girls without employment 
were not segregated but took their place with girls still 
employed in the general activities of the Association and 
were thus helped to maintain their morale. In looking over 
the history of the depressions in the United States and the 
history of the Young Women's Christian Association, it 
is interesting to note that the Association has always started 
new projects during or just at the end of a depression. The 
following list is worth noting: 

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSIONS ON THE Y.W.C.A. 

First Association organized in Boston in 1866, at the close 
of the Civil War. 

198 



In Times of Crisis 



Depression of 1873 

1873 First student Association organized in Normal, 

Illinois. 
1873 A national conference held in Philadelphia and 

the Foreign and Home Committees formed. 
Degression of 1882-1883 

1883 First state Associations organized in Michigan, 

Ohio, Iowa. 

Several new student Associations. 
First issue of the Evangel September, 1889. 
Depression of 1892 

1892 In London a preliminary meeting looking toward 

the forming of a world organization. 
1894 World's Young Women's Christian Association 

organized. 

April 1894 first number of the International Messenger. 
Depression of 1907 

February, 1907 Association Monthly started. 
1907 Studio Club, New York City. 
1908 National Training School, New York City. 
Depression of 1914-1915 

1915 First town and country conference at Geneva. 
National organization opened headquarters and club 
house at the Pan-Pacific International Exposition at 
San Francisco. 
Depression of 1921 

1922 First Industrial Assembly. 

To relate cause and effect of depressions and new ven- 
tures is probably too neat and new pieces of work have 
often taken their rise in times of prosperity. It would seem 
evident, however, that new needs became apparent in these 
times of crisis and that adjustments of time and money 
were made in order to include them in the program. 

Such experiences raise the question of the effect of the 

199 



History of a Social Institution 



business cycle on institutions in general, not only the direct 
effect of increased or decreased budgets but the even more 
significant effect of careful scrutiny of program in times of 
depression and of tolerance of the inefficient and super- 
fluous in times of prosperity. 

The depression of the nineteen-thirties has been particu- 
larly marked in the Young Women's Christian Association 
by the application of scientific methods to studies of the 
local programs, either as part of a whole community study 
or as an evaluation of the program of the Young Women's 
Christian Association alone. At the same time, the national 
organization has made studies of special subjects * such as 
the leisure-time activities of business women, the work with 
younger girls, membership practices, standards of local 
work, and the program of the industrial department. All 
these studies are designed to provide criteria by which 
local Associations may test their methods and programs 
and thus meet not only immediate local conditions but also 
the wider needs of the whole country. 

There have been many cooperative projects in com- 
munity recreation and adult education during the pressure 
of these years. There is also increasing interest in the grow- 
ing subject of the relation of public to private agencies, a 
subject which has spread beyond the relief agency as such 
to the question of social planning for the whole com- 
munity. 

* Janet Fowler Nelson, Leisure-Time Interests and Activities of Busi- 
ness Girls. 

Helen E. Davis, Report of the Study of Work with Younger Girls. 

Membership Study Committee, Summary of the Study of and Tenta- 
tive Recommendations in Regard to Membership Practices and Policies. 

Helen E. Davis, Discussion Outline for National Study on Association 
Standards. 

Mrs. Annabelle Stewart, director, Industrial Study now being made 
for the Fourteenth National Convention. 

200 



In Times of Crisis 



SOURCES 

1 Report of the Sixth National Convention of the Young 
Women 3 *s Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (Cleveland, 1920), pp. 24, 31. 

2 Report of the National War Work Council of the Young 
Women y s Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (1917-1919), pp. 4, 5, 30. 

3 Unpublished records of the National Board. 

4 "Fifth Annual Report of the Women's Christian Associ- 
ation of Philadelphia," Faith and Works, I (February, 1876), 

PP- 4-5- 

5 "Women's Christian Association of Providence, Rhode 

Island," Faith and Works y III (February, 1878), pp. 91-92. 

6 Buxton, Mrs. W. S. "Relation of the Association to the 
Unemployed," International Messenger > VII (May, 1900), 
p. 22. 

7 Osborn, H. M. "Report of Association Missionary," Third 
Annual Report of the Ladies* Christian Association of Mem- 
phis , Tennessee (1879), pp. 14-17. 

8 Report of the Seventh National Convention of the Young 
Women y s Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (Hot Springs, Ark., 1922), p. 335. 

9 Report of the Eighth National Convention of the Young 
Women*s Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (New York, 1924), p. 357. 

10 Report of the Tenth National Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica (Sacramento, 1928), pp. 104-105. 

GENERAL REFERENCES 

Speakers Hand Book) 1921 edition (Issued by National 
Speakers' Bureau of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion). 

Sims, Mary S. The First Twenty-five Years (New York: 
The Womans Press, 1932). 

2O I 



History of a Social Institution 



Wilson, Elizabeth. World Cooperation of the Young 
Women*s Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica > A Record of the Foreign Work of the American Associ- 
ations 1866-1929. 



202 



CHAPTER X 
Breaking Down Barriers 

MANY of the conditions of modern life, such as urbani- 
zation, voluntary or involuntary segregation of 
races, nationalities, social and economic groups, tend to 
split society into sections, each of which exhibits within 
itself the behavior of the in-group, that is, good-will and 
cooperation, and toward other groups the behavior of the 
out-group, that is, hostility and suspicion. 1 

Using as its frame of reference the Christian ideal of a 
classless society, the Young Women's Christian Association 
in its seventy-five years of work in the United States has 
attempted to become, in fact as in theory, an individual- 
and group-participating organization including in its mem- 
bership a cross-section of the girls and women of this 
country. 

Toward this difficult end two main methods of working 
may be identified: the one that of substituting primary for 
secondary contacts in representatives of the different 
groups} the other that of developing within each group, 
leadership which can take its place on. equal terms in the 
association of the whole. 

Early in its history there is evidence that the Young 
Women's Christian Association saw the danger of a purely 
welfare movement of the privileged doing good to the less 
privileged, and the consequent failure of the fellowship 

203 



History of a Social Institution 



idea. The following quotation appears in the magazine 
Faith and Works for November, 1880: 

May we not put ourselves in the places of the sick, the 
lonely, the stranger, the young women whom we as 
Women's Christian Associations seek to minister unto, and 
with deep heart-searchings, ask ourselves if we are doing all 
we ought to do, if we are really doing to them as we should 
wish them to do to us if the positions were reversed and we 
were the friendless ones seeking aid, sympathy or counsel. 2 

It was soon realized that if the desire to include all 
kinds of women and girls in the membership of the Asso- 
ciation should be more than a theory, special and particular 
plans would need to be made not only for reaching them 
but, even more, for associating on an equal basis within 
the fellowship those groups most widely differing from the 
common norm of white Nordic adults, groups such as the 
foreign-born, the Negro, the industrial worker and the 
younger girl. If such plans were not made, the organiza- 
tion would become, as it was already tending to be, a 
homogeneous group of the middle-of-the-road variety. 

Most local Associations started with what would be 
considered today our business girls, that is, girls working 
for wages in stores and offices, but soon what might be 
termed the Association idea spread to student centers, and 
student Young Women's Christian Associations were 
organized with student leadership and with program 
emphases particularly suited to students. Not long after 
the beginnings of student Associations there began to be 
stirrings of interest in teen-age girls. From 1881 on, 
various plans of work and programs were developed for 
these younger members, until in 1919 these varied activi- 
204 



Breaking Down Barriers 



ties were welded into one whole, the Girl Reserve move- 
ment of the Young Women's Christian Association, which 
is the younger membership of the organization. The na- 
tional aspects of the Girl Reserve movement appear in the 
summer conferences held in different areas and at the 
national convention, where the adult leadership of the 
Girl Reserve movement meets as a group to discuss plans 
and programs. 

It was not long before attention turned to Negro women 
and girls, who were asking the benefits of the Young 
Women's Christian Association. The first record of work 
with Negro women and girls that continued was the work 
in Dayton, Ohio, organized in 1893. The Association early 
recognized that if it was to be of real service to Negro 
women and girls there was involved not only the develop- 
ing of Negro leadership but also experience and training 
for both Negro and white women in meeting together 
their common problems. 

In this difficult field of race relations progress has been 
apparent not so much in the matter of resolutions passed 
as in life lived. In many communities, south as well as 
north, branches for colored women and girls are con- 
trolled and administered by Negro leadership both lay 
and professional. At the same time, the working together 
of Negro and white women in the interests of girls as a 
whole is increasing. Summer conferences, conventions and 
group meetings, as well as local committees and boards, 
provide opportunities for Negro and white women of 
education and experience to know each other and to work 
together in solving common problems. Negro women 
are responsible leaders in the Student and the Industrial 
Assemblies as well as in meetings of the whole Associa- 

205 



History of a Social Institution 



lion, and both white and Negro women seem to be learn- 
ing the difficult lesson of building from experience to 
higher levels as well as of judging immediate situations 
in the light of ideal conditions. That in dealing with prob- 
lems affecting both races the responsible groups shall 
include representatives of both races, is one of the main 
principles developed through the years. 

It seems clear both from unpublished records of meet- 
ings and from hearsay evidence that there has been con- 
stant effort on the part of both races to handle this matter 
of race relations with courage yet with consideration for 
the interests of the total movement of the Young 
Women's Christian Association. The danger on the one 
hand of treating the matter sentimentally, and on the 
other of using the prestige and power of the organization 
for the immediate interests of one group, has been on the 
whole avoided. A consistent attempt over the years, how- 
ever, to reach standards of relationships a little in advance 
of those common to the whole community as for instance 
the policy of having representatives of both races par- 
ticipate in its meetings in all parts of the country has 
resulted in placing the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion in the forefront of those organizations which are con- 
cerned with the practice as well as the teaching of better 
race relations. Many problems have been involved, mis- 
takes have been made, and the place of a minority group 
has been by no means defined as yet, nevertheless the 
mere holding together of an organization made up of such 
different elements and with so many conflicting interests 
has been in itself an achievement in this field. 

The conception of the Association as a fellowship of all 
kinds of women and girls led to early efforts to make it 
206 



Breaking Down Barriers 



possible for industrial women and girls to be a responsible 
part of the organization. In a report of the New York City 
Association in June 1878 there is a report from a so-called 
industrial committee. It seems evident, however, that this 
work was chiefly for instruction in the simpler industrial 
processes. There was a class in sewing-machine techniques 
with forty-four women, many of whom afterward found 
employment in this branch of industry. At this time 
the Association was also attempting to raise funds to open 
a dressmaking department, with a competent forewoman. 
This seems to be one of the first instances of the idea of 
preparing girls for work in trades rather than only to 
make their own clothing. 3 Early in the following year, 
in a report of the San Francisco Association, the statement 
is made that an industrial department had been estab- 
lished, "the object of which was to provide work for the 
worthy poor, at reasonable prices, and to provide clothing 
for the needy sick." 4 A little later comes evidence that this 
type of early effort, confined to providing simple work in 
workrooms for the poor or preparing them to take jobs, 
was not meeting the situation. The following quotation 
appears in the Evangel for February 1900: 

Last summer at our city conferences, attention was espe- 
cially called to "the factory problem/ 3 to the fact that at 
least 56 of our 60 city Associations are in factory towns, 
and yet from answers received from questions sent out it 
would seem that very few are reaching the factory young 
women in any numbers. 5 

Gradually some contact was made directly in factories, 
usually at the noon hour, with girls working in industry. 
The program in its beginnings was entirely a religious one, 
consisting of prayer meetings, hymn singing to the accom- 

207 



History of a Social Institution 



paniment of a melodeon laboriously carried from factory 
to factory, and the telling of Bible stories. Such a begin- 
ning served chiefly as a way to bring about personal 
acquaintance between factory girls and Association workers. 
As this personal acquaintance grew the program changed. 
Soon after that time, a flier was taken in attempting to 
work with industrial women and girls in mill villages of 
the south. In the Evangel for 1904, in an article entitled 
"The Association in a Mill Village," the following state- 
ments appear: 

Very much has been done by the company to make Pelzer 
a model mill town and to better the condition of its em- 
ployees. And one of these attempts has been the bringing in 
of the Young Women's Christian Association. . . . 

After much calling among the people and explanation to 
them of the object of the work, classes were begun in 
March. It seemed best to limit the number in each class to 
about twenty or twenty-five. During March and April we 
organized two clubs, one studying Japan, the other reading 
Kate Douglas Wiggin's "Rebecca." A mothers' meeting 
and two classes in night school, each come twice a week. 
The attendance at all was very good until the coming of 
hot weather and a number of the girls have been faithful 
all through the summer. A number of social evenings have 
been given, which on the whole have been very successful, 
though the secretary's ingenuity has been taxed to the very 
utmost on some occasions to afford good humor as well as 
entertainment. 

Not until after some months did it seem wise to attempt 
organization of the Association proper. 6 

Somewhat later an Association was organized in the 
Colgate Soap Factory in Jersey City. In the Evangel for 
208 



Breaking Down Barriers 



April 1906 the following comment is made on the work 
in factories: 

It is a comparatively easy task for a sweet-spirited, at- 
tractive young woman to gain an entrance to a factory 
where numbers of girls are at work, and it is quite possible 
for her to find some common ground with them and have 
an interesting visit out of which an organization may grow 
and other organizations may multiply. But the work has 
vastly greater significance than can be indicated by mere 
numbers influenced. It must be a definite force in building 
up the best type of citizenship. The Association is and ever 
should be an upholder of ideals. 7 

Just at this time, 1906, came the forming of the present 
national organization which drew together the various ex- 
perimental efforts being made over the country and pro- 
vided both the means and the leadership for further efforts 
to meet the desires and needs of industrial girls. It was 
becoming evident to the leaders in the organization that 
if the Young Women's Christian Association, was to be 
free in its work with industrial girls, free not only to pro- 
vide for them the programs that they desired but also to 
help them in improving their conditions of labor, it was 
not possible to be dependent on employers for places of 
meeting and other favors. Therefore work was gradually 
withdrawn from mill villages and as factory branches. As 
many of these were well established, it was a long time 
before they were finally discontinued, one of the last re- 
maining being that in the Larkin Factory in Buffalo, which 
was discontinued only in 1925. In other words, the Young 
Women's Christian Association was apparently realizing, 
though perhaps dimly, that there were conflicts of in- 
terests between workers and employers and that as a Chris- 

209 



History of a Social Institution 



tian organization it must be free either to take no side or 
to take the side that seemed to be that of right and justice. 
This point of view was gradually focusing, not only in the 
national but also in the world organization. 

In 1906 the Executive Committee of the World's 
Young Women's Christian Association decided that the 
place of the Young Women's Christian Association in 
social and industrial life should be a major topic of dis- 
cussion at the World's Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation conference to be held in Berlin in 1910. Florence 
Simms, national industrial secretary for the Young 
Women's Christian Association of the United States, was 
asked to be chairman of an international commission to 
make a study of this subject. This commission's report was 
called by Miss Simms the "charter" of the industrial work 
of the Association. The resolutions as passed by the Berlin 
conference recognized the social significance of the teach- 
ings of Jesus and urged upon all national Associations the 
study of the social problems of the day, especially as they 
affected young women. 

These resolutions were sent to each national Association 
belonging to the World's Association. Each was invited 
to adopt them as a statement of its own policy. As a result 
of this action resolutions were brought by the Committee 
on the National Board's Report to the national convention 
held at Indianapolis in 1911. These resolutions were as 
follows: 

XII. Inasmuch as the utterly inadequate wages paid to 
thousands of young women throughout the country often 
hamper the work of the Association as a great preventive 
agency, and as the white slave traffic is admitted to be 
closely related to the lack of a living wage, the Association 

210 



Breaking Down Barriers 



recognizes its responsibility as an influential unit in the body 
of Christian public opinion, and accordingly it is recom- 
mended: 

a. That the Association shall seek to educate public 
opinion regarding the need of establishing a minimum liv- 
ing wage and of regulating the hours of labor compatible 
with the physical health and development of wage-earners. 

b. That the Association shall declare its belief in the 
right of a woman over sixteen years of age in good health, 
working a full day, to a living wage which shall insure 
her the possibility of a virtuous livelihood. 

c. That the Association, recognizing the necessity of 
legislation for the regulation of hours and wages of wage- 
earners in industry and trade hereby expresses its sym- 
pathy with the great purpose of securing the determina- 
tion by law of a minimum living wage for women. 

d. That the Association, while endeavoring to im- 
prove the industrial condition of the working girl shall 
point steadfastly to a higher standard of faithful service 
and achievement for the worker and of justice and con- 
sideration for the employer. 

XIII. That, in order to make more far-reaching the 
contact of the Young Women's Christian Association with 
women in industry, the extension of Association work into 
factories through noon meetings, classes and informal clubs 
be continued; and that wherever possible, in preference to 
organizing Associations within factory walls the establish- 
ment of rented centers in the industrial sections of cities be 
advocated and employers be encouraged to contribute to the 
funds of the central Association, which shall employ the 
secretaries in charge of this work. 8 

It is probably true that the significance of these state- 
ments was not realized by the convention. Women had not 
been given the suffrage and the possibilities of social legis- 

211 



History of a Social Institution 



lation in this country were only vaguely comprehended. 
It was, however, in the light of these recommendations 
that industrial work in the local Associations was pro- 
moted by the national organization. 

In 1912 the first attempts were made to organize the 
industrial membership of the Young Women's Christian 
Association on a national basis. The following statements 
quoted from an address by Florence Simrns to the 1922 
Industrial Assembly appear in the report of the National 
Board in 1924: 

You have been accomplishing several things in these 
twelve years since you really began to be a movement for 
you did begin to be that when you formed your field fed- 
erations. In the first place, you have dignified work until 
you have made girls proud to be workers in industry; you 
have stood together for an ideal, the honor and the integrity 
of the worker, until you have changed the point of view of 
very many girls. You have enlarged your thinking in many 
cases from a purely individual thinking to a group thinking; 
you have ceased to think only of the individual, and you 
think of your relationship to society; you have assumed a 
very much greater social responsibility. 

We are organized to be a movement of industrial women 
of the Young Women's Christian Association, to try to per- 
meate the womanhood of industry with a Christian idea, 
and to help to build a Christian order; to try to educate 
public opinion by our own experience as to what the needs 
of that order are and as to the conditions of today which 
must be changed if we are to give women the fullest kind 
of life. 9 

Through this organization of a national movement of 
industrial girls within the Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation has come not only the opportunity for wider 
212 



Breaking Down Barriers 



development of the leadership abilities of industrial girls 
but also the opportunity and the possibility of their func- 
tioning as an active and powerful part of the national Asso- 
ciation. The Industrial Assembly now meets in connection 
with the national convention of the Young Women's 
Christian Association. It makes recommendations to the 
convention and is articulate both through its group repre- 
sentatives and through the contribution of individuals to 
discussions. 

The question of the including of foreign-born, and in 
many cases non-English speaking, women and girls in the 
Young Women's Christian Association had little attention 
until after the present national organization was formed. 
The first efforts made by the Association were confined to 
classes in English for foreigners. It was soon recognized 
that this one activity made meager and often very unsatis- 
factory contacts, and plans were laid for developing a 
program which should not only meet the needs of foreign 
women and girls on a wider basis but should also help 
them to find their place within the Association, 

After several years of experimentation on the part of 
the National Board, the plan known as International In- 
stitute work was developed. This particular plan is for 
those communities in which there is a fairly large foreign 
population. The essence of the idea is the establishing of a 
separate center of work, so located as to be convenient to 
the foreign groups and having, under the leadership of an 
American general secretary, an employed staff who speak 
the main languages represented in the foreign communi- 
ties and, largely using the case-work method, minister to 
their needs and help them to share in the fellowship of 
the whole. 

213 



History" of a Social Institution 



In smaller places foreign communities departments have 
been formed, with some of the ideas but a less formal set- 
up than in the communities with a large foreign popula- 
tion. The policy of reaching foreign women and girls 
through the medium of their own language is a major 
element in the work of these departments. This group 
within the Young Women's Christian Association also has 
come to have its national manifestation in its Conference of 
International Institutes, which has met in connection with 
the national convention or as a kindred group of the Na- 
tional Conference of Social Work. 

The last group of women and girls to receive group 
recognition in the Association was the business and profes- 
sional women. From the earliest days business women and 
girls have been a part of the Association, but as individuals, 
not as a group. At the close of the World War it was evi- 
dent that the place held by women in the commercial 
world was not only important but permanent and that as a 
group these women and girls were meeting problems and 
opportunities for which they were little prepared. 

One of the immediate responsibilities of the Young 
Women's Christian Association seemed, therefore, to be to 
help this group to form its own independent organization, 
the National Federation of Business and Professional 
Women.* This was accomplished in 1919. There were 
still, however, in the local communities many business 
women, particularly between the ages of eighteen and 
twenty-five, who wanted and needed the facilities of the 
Young Women's Christian Association. These younger 
business and professional women members of the Young 
Women's Christian Association have also developed their 

*See page 153. 
214 



Breaking Down Barriers 



own national expression, the Assembly of Business and 
Professional Women, which meets in connection with the 
national convention. 

The effect on the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion of the attempts to reach these different groups by 
special plans and programs adapted to their needs resulted 
in a highly departmentalized organization, particularly in 
the larger Associations, oftentimes with little provision for 
the normal flow of intercourse and fellowship between 
the various groups. An interesting national example of an 
attempt to promote understanding between groups has 
been summer groups of students in industry. This plan 
was started in the summer of 1921 when six college stu- 
dents spent the months of July and August as industrial 
workers in the city of Denver, meeting each week in 
seminar to study the significance of their experience and 
relate it to community life. The next year there were simi- 
lar groups in three cities. This plan was followed later, 
in those communities where there was both a student center 
and industrial work in the local Association, by discussion 
groups made up of students and girls in industry, on 
economics and sociology. 9 

In this process of helping to bring about better under- 
standing between groups the Young Women's Christian 
Association has recognized two distinct steps. First, that 
of reaching the different groups and preparing them to 
meet others on equal terms, and second, the actual promo- 
tion of association between them. There are times when 
this specialized approach has seemed to be building barriers 
rather than breaking them down. Nevertheless, the root 
idea of the Association has been the association of effort 
through doing things together. The following statement 

215 



History of a Social Institution 



appears In the report of the National Board to the Eighth 
National Convention in 1924: 

In the quaint language of the fifties, the purpose of their 
getting together, for one group of our founders, is stated as 
follows: "We, the undersigned, believing that increase of 
social virtue, elevation of character, intellectual excellence, 
and the spread of religion can best be accomplished by asso- 
ciated effort ... do hereby adopt for our mutual govern- 
ment the following constitution." The root idea of the 
Association always has been association of effort, doing things 
together. In recent times a technique of group thinking 
and action is being acquired and perfected. As fast as may 
be with the slender means at its disposal the National Board 
is stimulating the use of such cooperative processes, urging 
the widest possible application of the cooperative principle, 
standing for the cooperative spirit. We declare the Associa- 
ation to be in essence a fellowship, a fellowship of persons, 
the cement of their fellowship being the purpose of the or- 
ganization. 9 

The signs of progress seem at times to be few and re- 
sults in terms of numbers discouraging. The degree of 
success attained by the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation in bringing about a better understanding between 
the various kinds of women and girls in the United States 
can be measured, in one way, from the fact that with the 
exception of girls under eighteen, the national convention, 
which determines national policies, includes representatives 
of these various groups as official voting delegates in con- 
siderable numbers. It is a somewhat anomalous situation 
in that few local boards of directors of Associations are 
equally representative and consequently the policies of 
the national organization set by convention action are de- 
216 



Breaking Down Barriers 



termined by a group proportionately different from the 
groups which in local Associations have final decision on 
local policies. This would seem to be a matter needing 
careful consideration before it reaches the point where 
tensions would inevitably develop. 

Such a situation arouses the questions of the place of 
a sub-group within a larger group and of the divided loyal- 
ties arising from the conflict of interests of the part as 
against the whole. This problem is very different from that 
of two coordinate groups with certain common and certain 
divided interests. It involves the question of a hierarchy 
of values and the discovery of those points where the 
concern of the part determines the course of action of the 
whole or where the part is subservient to the wider in- 
terests of the larger group. 

SOURCES 

1 Park and Burgess. Introduction to the Science of Sociology 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1921), p. 283. 

2 Editorial. "Seest Thou This Woman?" Faith and Works, 
VI (November, 1880), p. 38. 

3 Crosby, M. T. "Letter from New York Association," 
Faith and Works, III (June, 1878), p. 155. 

4 Report from the San Francisco Association in Faith and 
Works, IV (February, 1879), p. 91. 

' 5 Author unknown. "The Factory Problem," Evangel, 
XI (February, 1900), pp. 10-11. 

6 McGaughey, Hester. "The Association in a Mill Village," 
Evangel, XVI (November, 1904), pp. 15-16. 

7 McLean, Dr. Annie Marion. "Methods of Industrial Bet- 
terment," Evangel, XVIII (April, 1906), pp. 16-20. 

8 Report of the Third Biennial Convention of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of Amer- 
ica ( Indianapolis, 1911), pp. 108-109. 

217 



History of a Social Institution 



9 Report of the National Board of the Young Women^s 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Eighth National Convention (1924), pp. 94, 100, 1 02, and 
introductory statement. 

GENERAL REFERENCES 

Fox, Gene vie ve M. The Industrial Awakening and the 
Young W 'omen's Christian Association (New York: National 
Board of the Young Women's Christian Associations, 1919). 

Author unknown. Interracial Cooperation (New York: 
National Board of the Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tions) . 

Sims, Mary S. The First Twenty- five Years (New York: 
The Womans Press, 1932). 



218 



CHAPTER XI 
Taking Stock for the Future 

THE definition of an institution as a mechanism through 
which groups of people satisfy certain fundamental 
interests is clearly applicable to the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association. This organizational expression of reli- 
gious fervor, born at a period when a wave of evangelical 
piety was sweeping over the nation, and finding its pro- 
gram in the new needs and desires of women incident on 
their advent in large numbers into the economic world out- 
side their own homes, rapidly attracted members. 

As it has developed, over the years, the Young 
Women's Christian Association has to some degree in the 
last seventy-five years helped women in the United States 
to satisfy directly three of the four basic wishes as classi- 
fied by W. I. Thomas: 

We divide wishes into four classes : ( I ) the desire for new 
experience; (2) the desire for security; (3) the desire for 
recognition; (4) the desire for response. 1 

A growing organization, composed entirely of women 
even in its highest and most responsible offices, the Young 
Women's Christian Association did much to win recogni- 
tion for women at a time when their interests were ex- 
tending outside the home and they were looking for a field 
of service in the community and the nation. The desire 
for security, too, has found some fulfillment in the corpo- 
rate Christian purpose, with its emphasis on an inner secur- 

19 



History of a Social Institution 



ity dependent on the Christian conception of a friendly 
universe and a God of love. At first sight there may seem 
to have been little chance for the spirit of adventure or 
"new experience," but from the time when it was an un- 
heard of thing for women to manage budgets and finances 
of organizations on a large scale, to the present with its 
sallies into the difficult fields of race relations, industrial 
unrest, international cross-currents, and differing aspects 
of Christian philosophy, women have found in the Young 
Women's Christian Association an opportunity to attack 
problems, to pursue new ideas, to work out new solutions 
in specific instances, and to dare the misunderstanding of 
the more static elements in community life. 

The morale developed through this allegiance to a 
common purpose has shown itself repeatedly in a deter- 
mined persistence in given policies, in spite of opposition, 
and in the subordination of individual interests to the gen- 
eral attitudes and opinions. Such collective behavior is 
illustrated in the reiteration by successive conventions of 
the principle of collective bargaining and in the freedom 
of religious expression evidenced in the changes in the 
basis of membership. It should be recalled in connection 
with this point that the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation represents a cross-section of the girls and women 
of this country economically and socially, as well as all 
branches of the Christian faith. 

This complexity of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation, made up of many different kinds of women and 
girls doing many kinds of things, interested in many as- 
pects of life, is apparently baffling not only to the general 
public but to its own leadership. It reflects the complexity 
of the modern world. Looked at over the years, the Young 
Women's Christian Association has, at different times and 

220 



Taking Stock for the Future 



under different circumstances, characterized itself as a 
woman movement, as a social agency, as an educational 
organization, as a recreational agency, and as a religious 
organization. The only way in which harmony and inte- 
gration can be found in these differing interests and points 
of view is by persistent effort to consider the Association 
as a whole, just as the Association itself has attempted 
always to look at women and girls whole, and to face 
their many needs and desires, thus helping them to de- 
velop a philosophy for the whole of life. More important 
than any of its separate aspects, therefore, seems to be the 
fact that the Young Women's Christian Association as an 
organization is all these various things at once, subordi- 
nated much of the time, and at all periods of crisis, to a 
dominating religious purpose which is the touchstone for 
its decisions. Because of this rather loose unity it is easily 
apparent that there is danger of developing a staff of 
highly specialized workers equipped to do particular tasks 
but often lacking sympathy with the central purpose of the 
organization. 

Certainly there appears to be confusion in regard to the 
function of the Association. In reports, articles and techni- 
cal pamphlets, questions are raised as to just what is the 
job of the Young Woman's Christian Association, what its 
program should be, what its place is in the life of com- 
munities today. Different answers are given at different 
times, but there is little consensus over a continuing period. 
New programs are taken up lightly and responsibilities 
assumed often with too little study of actual need. This 
situation has appeared in local Associations, where resi- 
dences have been opened for which there was not demand 
in sufficient numbers to make possible an economical hous- 
ing unit. 

221 



History of a Social Institution 



The fact that the question of the place of the Young 
Women's Christian Association in the community appears 
frequently in the programs of conferences and conventions 
would seem to indicate at least doubt of the essential use- 
fulness of the Young Women's Christian Association to 
community life, though there are indications that such 
questions arise out of a perhaps overzealous desire on the 
part of the Association to meet all needs of all women at 
all times. 

The Young Women's Christian Association seems to 
have suffered at various times from an inferiority complex 
through the failure of social work in general to recognize 
the techniques of group work as legitimate professional 
equipment for social workers. The Conference of Social 
Work itself, as well as the curricula of schools of social 
work, have until recently failed to make this recognition 
of group-work techniques as essential to social work. There 
is also a tendency within the Association to make artificial 
distinctions between program and administration. The 
attitude appears to be, that leading a club of girls in sing- 
ing is program, and helping a board of directors to work 
out its relations with other organizations in the community 
is administration. 

It is evident from reports that the organization itself 
is aware of many of the problems it is facing. In the report 
of the National Board to the convention of 1928, made up 
of delegates from local Associations, the following state- 
ment appears in regard to administering the organization: 

There is far too large an element of domination in the 
Association, even though that domination has on the whole 
expanded from being the domination of an individual to that 
of a small group. 

The main part of this whole question of democratic ad- 

222 



Taking Stock for the Future 



ministration is the membership problem. We go forward in 
the optimistic belief that it is possible to have a reasonable 
proportion of the voting membership of any Association in- 
telligent and interested participators in the forming of 
policy. There are times, however, when we wonder whether 
that faith is chimerical. . . . 

Of all the problems that a city Association is facing, the 
most serious and far-reaching is the question of whether or 
not the Association can be administered in democratic 
fashion. 2 

There is evident also a continuing struggle to keep the 
organization a truly membership-participating organiza- 
tion as well as an organization which provides varied types 
of service to women and girls. 

There is apparent a lack of sufficient leadership of the 
highest quality both among lay and professional workers. 
This seems to tend to concentrate power and control in 
the hands of the few and to continue the same leadership 
over long periods of years without the invigorating effect 
of changes and new points of view. 

The intention of the organization to meet the needs of 
women and girls, whatever they are, has meant that as 
the social and economic conditions of women have 
changed, the program of the Association has changed also. 
The present indications seem to be that the Association is 
feeling it necessary to give more attention than ever before 
to the problems of the individual girl within the group, 
in the effort to help her build a philosophy of life and a 
conception of her own place in the social order which will 
make life for her a happier and a richer thing. There are 
also indications that as women in general are becoming 
more accustomed to doing the work of responsible citizens, 
the Young Women's Christian Association as an organiza- 

223 



History of a Social Institution 



tion is taking a larger part in developing intelligent 
opinion, particularly in those fields that are of great in- 
terest to women, such as conditions under which industrial 
women work, peace, health, and all matters affecting 
children* 

There appears to be an increased differentiation of the 
task of the National Board as the executive body of the 
national organization, from the task of the local Associa- 
tion. The original and primary responsibilities of the Na- 
tional Board were to organize new local Associations and 
to act in an advisory relationship to all local Associations 
in providing them with the accumulated experience of the 
entire country. In later years this has become a smaller 
proportion of the total national program than in the be- 
ginning. Today local Associations look to the national 
organization to carry on for them the work which no one 
local Association can do for itself. An outstanding example 
is the work done in foreign countries. 

There is also greater interest on the part of the whole 
Association in the United States in the work of the World's 
Young Women's Christian Association. For a period, any 
relationship of the national Association in the United 
States to the World's Young Women's Christian Associa- 
tion was assumed to be almost entirely because of the work 
which the Association of the United States did in other 
countries. Recently there has appeared a conception of the 
World's Association as an opportunity for the joint func- 
tioning of the national Associations in much the same way 
that the national organization in the United States func- 
tions for local Associations. 

Another important trend is the emphasis of the Young 
Women's Christian Association on its fellowship aspects 
rather than on its institutional aspects. The result of this 
224 



Taking Stock for the Future 



fellowship is a wholeness in the total movement world, 
national and local. 

Certain material facts about the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association, such as its ownership of buildings in the 
majority of communities where it is organized, its policy 
of employing on all programs a trained professional 
leadership that works side by side with the lay leadership, 
give, a kind of obvious stability to the organization which 
in some cases tends to be substituted for vitality of interest 
on the part of the leaders and for flexibility of program. 
The invigorating streams of newer ideas and dynamic pur- 
pose come apparently from the repeated, though not con- 
stant, efforts to widen the base of responsible effort in the 
Association, both local and national; to take on new in- 
terests of women as they arise 3 and periodically to true 
up the general aims, as seen in program and policy, to the 
philosophy of building both an individual and a social 
point of view after the pattern of the Christian faith. The 
effect of equipment and of standardization of the form of 
organization on policies and the development of leader- 
ship is an interesting question for further study. 

The results of the depression of the nineteen-thirties in 
limiting the lives of women economically, professionally 
and politically, are having their effect on program. The 
increased leisure time of women presents also an increasing 
opportunity to an organization which not only desires to 
help women to satisfactory living but also must use, if its 
program expands, increasing numbers of lay workers. In 
Volume I of the study, Recent Social Trends in the United 
States, the following statement about women appears: 

The diminution of the home occupations and activities 
of women opens several possibilities. One is the entrance of 

225 



History of a Social Institution 



women into industry as has been noted. If there were more 
part-time jobs the movement would probably be accelerated. 
Another possibility is the entrance of women into civic work 
and political activities. A third is the heightened standard of 
the quality of housework. A fourth is more recreation and 
leisure. The future position of women will be determined by 
the degree of flow into these channels and the problem is 
to direct this flow into the channels most desirable. Mean- 
while, the tradition lingers that woman's place is in the 
home and the social philosophy regarding her status has 
not changed as rapidly as have the various social and eco- 
nomic organizations. The problem of changing these lagging 
attitudes amounts in many cases to fighting for rights and 
against discrimination. Women are newcomers into the out- 
side world hitherto mainly the sphere of men. Many bar- 
riers of custom remain and the community is not making the 
most of this potential supply of able services. 3 

To an organization which over the years has devoted 
much of its effort to the developing of woman leadership 
among all classes such a situation presents a definite chal- 
lenge. 

With so general a philosophy as that of working toward 
the goal of the Christian ideal of life both for the in- 
dividual girl and woman and in society itself, the tendency 
to spread thin over a wide area of specific programs is 
always evident. 

In classifying the tasks to which the organization gives 
itself the following statement appears in Guiding Princi- 
ples and Program Emphases prepared for and accepted by 
the convention of 1934: 

Associations should continue their traditional emphasis on 
the following primary aspects of their program, with appro- 

226 



Taking Stock for the Future 



priate changes and additions to meet the special needs arising 
from the economic depression: 

Building an educational and recreational program for 
the development and enrichment of the individual. 

Serving girls and women in various forms of individual 
adjustment, in employment, housing and food service. 

Working as a social force or movement for a better 
society. 4 

Even this attempt at being specific in philosophy is 
nevertheless wide as human needs and is little help in 
providing controls and guideposts for determining definite 
program. A repeated trend has shown itself in recent 
years to make centers at the periphery of the movement, 
that is, in some particular cause such as that of industrial 
conditions or interracial problems, rather than to use per- 
sistently, as was true in earlier years, the Christian faith . 
as its center. 

With the increased specialization in the social work field 
it seems evident that some responsible group or groups 
the biennial convention of the national organization, made 
up of delegates from local Associations, or the National 
Board, the executive body of the national organization 
must determine definite and specific emphases for program 
for periods of years, possibly biennially, if the vigor and 
the vitality of the organization are not to be dispelled by 
centrifugal action of its various parts. 

In his book, International Survey of the Young Men's 
and Young Womerfs Christian Associations, Dr. Ernest 
Johnson speaks as follows: 

... the survey finds the Christian Associations studied 
to be, essentially and irreducibly, fellowships for the develop- 
ment of personality in young men and young women, boys 

227 



History of a Social Institution 



and girls, in accord with a Christian character ideal, central 
in which is that presented in the personality of Jesus. This 
does not mean that the Associations are everywhere running 
true to this type or that they do not frequently stray far from 
the norm here indicated. It means rather that they reveal 
an actual or potential unity on the basis of this concept and 
that only on this basis can any real integrity be found in 
them, taken as a whole. It means also that when, as some- 
times happens, an Association tends to become a mere ser- 
vice agency, opportunistic in program, it tends to depart from 
its true function and to become just one agency among 
many, a creature of its immediate environment and without 
continuity of life or distinctiveness of function. 6 

The Young Women's Christian Association is one of the 
oldest of the social agency institutions in this country. This 
fact in itself does not provide a valid reason for continued 
existence. In the experience, the training and the wisdom 
stored up through the years, in its flexibility and creative- 
ness in meeting the problems of the present and then 
making its contribution to the lives of women and girls, 
motivated by its corporate Christian purpose, is the true 
vitality of the organization. 

Many problems present themselves as a result of this 
study of one institution. One of the most persistent is that 
of democracy, or, as it might be defined, the steadily 
widening base of active responsibility in the control of 
policy and program. This development, begun through 
having individuals of varying life experiences share in the 
control of the institution, has reached the place where 
groups such as the Industrial Assembly and the Business 
Assembly are taking their place in the whole. The policy 
of how to give due place to groups in an institution still 
228 



Taking Stock for the Future 



organized on the basis of individual participation is still 
undiscovered. 

Up to the present, the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation, though early crystallized into a somewhat rigid 
institutional mold, has succeeded in adapting itself to 
changing circumstances. The concepts operating in the com- 
munity in regard to institutions are continually evident in 
the local Association, however, and present dangers and 
difficulties. The concept of institutional blindness the ten- 
dency to see the social scene from the viewpoint of one 
particular institution is constant and shows in various 
ways. Less evident in the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation is the concept that institutions tend to prolong their 
life for the sake of prolonging it. Where this is evident, 
it is more often found in relation to some particular pro- 
gram or the continued use of a particular building rather 
than to the total organization. Because of its varied char- 
acter and general aim such a concept is less easy to identify 
in the Young Women's Christian Association than in 
organizations of a more objective type. 

The danger of administrative obstruction is apparent at 
several points, most clearly at the place of corporate action 
on matters of public opinion, particularly in connection 
with legislation. The inevitable tension between the de- 
mands of a widespread program of activities and the de- 
sires of the membership for social action creates crises and 
demands a formula of adjustment not easily available. 

Contribution control is another concept that needs con- 
sideration. With the blurring of identity resulting from 
the joint raising of current funds through community 
chests, this question has been diluted, but it will inevitably 
arise as long as an institution operating in the field of con- 

229 



History of a Social Institution 



troversy seeks and receives general community financial 
support. 

The impossibility of separating the Young Women's 
Christian Association or any other institution from the con- 
text in which it exists is apparent, but the difficulties of 
rapid adjustment to the kaleidoscopic change in society to- 
day, and the social unrest everywhere evident, create the 
constant danger of this or any other institution's dropping 
out of the main stream of life and change, into the quiet 
of a backwater. 

An institution such as the Young Women's Christian 
Association, which stresses the autonomy of the local Asso- 
ciation and at the same time uses geographical sections 
towns, cities, districts as its units of organization, must 
face inequalities of development and power in these local 
units. The place of the large city Association in relation to 
the whole its influence owing to size, power, prestige, 
highly trained and numerous employed staff is one to be 
reckoned with. There is the possibility of a direct relation 
between the development of work in these large Associa- 
tions and the trend of the national organization which as 
yet is hardly recognized. 

If there is to be careful statecraft in the development of 
the Young Women's Christian Association as an organiza- 
tion it would seem necessary to give particular attention to 
the part played by the national convention in determining 
policy j the relation of group development and action to 
individual participation 5 the function of large city Asso- 
ciations in the whole 3 the relation of social action to com- 
munity support j and the method of expressing a Christian 
purpose which is ecumenical in scope. 



230 



Taking Stock for the Future 



SOURCES 

1 Restatement from a paper by W, I. Thomas in Introduc- 
tion to the Science of Sociology by Park and Burgess (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1921), p. 489. 

2 Report of the National Board of the Young Women's 
Christian Associations of the United States of America to the 
Tenth National Convention (1928), p. 15. 

3 Recent Social Trends in the United States, a report of the 
President's Research Committee on Social Trends (New York 
and London: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1933), Vol. I, 
Introduction, p. xlvi. 

4 Guiding Principles and Program Emphases for the Bien- 
nium 1934-1936 as Adopted by the Convention (1934), p. 8. 

5 International Survey Committee. International Survey of 
the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations 
(New York: Young Men's Christian Association, 1932), 
p. 401. 



231 



APPENDIX 

The Christian Eases for Determining Eligibility 
to Affiliation with the 'National Organization 

I. THE ORIGINAL "CHURCH BASIS" 

Any Young Women's Christian Association may be a member of 
this organization upon application to the National Board and upon 
filing with it a copy of its constitution, showing that its voting 
and office-holding membership is limited to women who are mem- 
bers of Protestant evangelical churches.* 

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution 
of the Y.W.C.A.'s of the U.S.A. 

*By Protestant evangelical churches are meant those churches which, 
because of their oneness in Jesus Christ as their divine Lord and Saviour 
are entitled to representation in the Federal Council of the Churches of 
Christ in America. The list of churches which have availed themselves 
of this privilege up to date will be found on record at the office of the 
National Board. 

II. FIRST PERSONAL BASIS FOR STUDENT ASSOCIATIONS. ADOPTED 
BY THE NATIONAL CONVENTION, 1920 

Any student Young Women's Christian Association may be ad- 
mitted to membership whose constitution embodies the following 
provisions: 

The Young Women's Christian Association of 

affirming the Christian faith in God, the Father; and in Jesus 
Christ, his only Son, our Lord and Saviour; and in the Holy 
Spirit, the Revealer of truth and Source of power for life and 
service; according to the teaching of the Holy Scripture and the 
witness of the Church, declares its purpose to be: 

233 



History of a Social Institution 



PURPOSE 

(1) To lead students to faith in God through Jesus Christ; 

(2) To lead them into membership and service in the Christian 
Church ; 

(3) To promote their growth in Christian faith and character, 
especially through the study of the Bible; 

(4) To influence them to devote themselves, in united effort 
with all Christians, to making the will of Christ effective 
In human society, and to extending the Kingdom of God 
throughout the world. 

MEMBERSHIP 

Any woman of the institution may be a member of the 
Association provided: 

(1) That she is in sympathy with the Purpose of the Association; 

(2) That she makes the following declaration: "It is my pur- 
pose to live as a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ." 

Article 11 y Section 2, of the Constitution 
of the Y.W.A's of the U.S.A. 

III. FIRST PERSONAL BASIS FOR ASSOCIATIONS OTHER THAN 
STUDENT. ADOPTED BY THE NATIONAL CONVENTION, 1926 

Any Young Women's Christian Association other than student 
may be a member of the national organization upon application to 
the National Board and upon filing with it a copy of its constitu- 
tion, showing 

A. That its voting and office-holding membership is limited to 
women who are members of Protestant evangelical churches; 

B. That its constitution embodies the following: 

I. Preamble 

The Young Women's Christian Association of , 

affirming the Christian faith in God, the Father; and in 
Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord and Saviour; and in 
the Holy Spirit, the Revealer of truth and Source of 
power for life and service; according to the teaching of 
Holy Scripture and the witness of the Church, declares 
its purpose to be 

234 



Bases for Determining Eligibility 



II. Purpose 

1. To associate young women in personal loyalty to Jesus 
Christ as Saviour and Lord; 

2. To lead them into membership and service in the 
Christian Church; 

3. To promote growth in Christian character and service 
through physical, social, mental and spiritual training; 

4. To become a social force for the extension of the 
Kingdom of God. 

III. Qualifications 

1. For Electors, Any woman or girl of the community, 
over eighteen years of age, may become an elector in 
the Association provided she makes the following 
declaration: I desire to enter the Christian fellowship 
of the Association. I will loyally endeavor to uphold 
the purpose in my own life and through my member- 
ship in the Association. 

2. For Bo>ard Members. Members of the board shall be 
chosen from the electors of the Association. Three- 
fourths of the members of the board, including three- 
fourths of the officers of the Association, shall be 
members of churches eligible to membership in the 
Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. 

3. For Delegates. Three-fourths of the voting members 
of each local delegation at the national convention 
must be members of churches eligible to membership 
in the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in 
America. 

Article //, Section 2, of the Constitution 
of the Y.W.C.A.'s of the U.S.A. 

IV. SECOND PERSONAL BASIS FOR STUDENT ASSOCIATIONS. ADOPTED 
BY THE NATIONAL CONVENTION, 1928 

Any student Young Women's Christian Association may be ad- 
mitted to membership where the constitution embodies the follow- 
ing provisions: 
Purpose 

The Young Women's Christian Association of , 

a member of the Young Women's Christian Associations of 

235 



History of a Social Institution 



the United States of America, and a participant in the World's 
Student Christian Federation, declares its purpose to be: 
We, the members of the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation of , unite in the desire to 

realize full and creative life through a growing knowledge 
of God. 

We determine to have a part in making this life possible 
for all people. 

In this task we seek to understand Jesus and to follow Him. 
Article II, Section 3j of the Constitution 
of the Y.W.CJL.'s of the U. S. A. 

V. SECOND PERSONAL BASIS FOR ASSOCIATIONS OTHER THAN 
STUDENT. ADOPTED BY THE NATIONAL CONVENTION, 1934 

Any Young Women's Christian Association other than student 
may be a member of the national organization upon application to 
the National Board and upon filing with it a copy of its constitution, 
showing: 

A. That its voting and office-holding membership is limited to 
women who are members of Protestant evangelical churches, 

or 

B. That its constitution embodies the following: 

We, the Young Women's Christian Association of , 

a member of the Young Women's Christian Associations of 
the United States of America, declare our purpose to be: 

To build a fellowship of women and girls devoted to the 
task of realizing in our common life those ideals of persona] 
and social living to which we are committed by our faith as 
Christians. 

In this endeavor we seek to understand Jesus, to share his 
love for all people, and to grow in the knowledge and love 
of God. 

QUALIFICATIONS 

i. For Electors. Any woman or girl of the community, eighteen 
years of age or over, who accepts this purpose by assenting 
to the following declaration shall be entitled to electoral 
membership in the Association. 

236 



Constitution of the World's Association 

Together with other members of the 

Association, I desire to belong to this fellowship and to 

share in the responsibility for the realization of the 

purpose. 

For Board Members. Members and officers of the board shall 
be electoral members of the Association. 

For Delegates. Voting delegates to the convention shall be 
chosen from the electoral members of the Association. 

Article //, Section 2, of the Constitution 
of the Y.W.CA.'s of the U.S.A. 



Constitution of the World's Young Women's 

Christian Association * 

1934 

ARTICLE II. BASIS 

Faith in God the Father as Creator and in Jesus Christ his only 
Son as Lord and Saviour, and in the Holy Spirit as Revealer of 
truth and Source of power for life and service, according to the 
teaching of Holy Scripture. 

ARTICLE III, AIM 

The World's Young Women's Christian Association seeks to 
organize, develop and unite national Associations which, accepting 
its basis or one in conformity with it, endeavor to extend the King- 
dom of God according to its principles, and to bring young women 
to such knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour as shall 
manifest itself in character and conduct. 

It also calls all national Associations to promote Christian prin- 
ciples of social and international conduct by encouraging the 
development of a right public conscience such as shall strengthen 
all those forces which are working for the promotion of peace and 
better understanding between classes, nations and faces; believing 
that the world social order can only be made Christian through 

*The original document is in French. This is a translation. 

237 



History of a Social Institution 



individuals devoted to the single purpose of doing God's will, and 
that through obedience to the law of Christ there shall follow the 
extension of his Kingdom, in which the principles of justice, love 
and the equal value of every human life shall apply to national 
and international as well as to personal relations. 

ARTICLE IV. PRINCIPLES 

The World's Young Women's Christian Association desires to be 
representative of all sections of the Christian Church in so far as 
they accept the basis. It includes in the field of its activities young 
women without distinction of creed, and desires to enlist the service 
of young women for young women in their spiritual, intellectual, 
social and physical advancement, and to encourage their fellowship 
and activity in the Christian Church. The World's Young Women's 
Christian Association also pledges itself to assign a primary position 
to Bible study and prayer. 



238 



Chronological Table 

1855 Beginnings in England. Lady Kinnaird opens the 
North London Home, or General Female Training 
Institute, as the first Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation. 

Miss Emma Robarts of Barnet begins the Prayer 
Union. 

1858 November 24. Ladies' Christian Association organized 
in New York City. 

Young Women's Christian Improvement Association, 
formed in connection with the London Home, offers 
educational classes. 

1859 Agitation for Young Women's Christian Association in 
Boston, Mass. Mrs. Lucretia Boyd outlines a plan, 

1860 June i. Boarding home opens in Amity Place, New 
York City, under Ladies' Christian Association. 
Meetings held in New York City factories by Ladies' 
Christian Association. 

1866 March 3. Boston Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation organized (name "Young Women's Christian 
Association" appears for first time in America). 
Singing taught in Boston Association. 

1867 April 23. Providence, R. I., Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation organized. 

June 3. Hartford, Conn., Young Women's Christian 
Association organized. 

July 23. Providence Association opens combination 
home. 

Pittsburgh, Pa., Women's Christian Association or- 
ganized. 

Astronomy and physiology taught in Boston Associ- 
ation. 

1868 June. Cincinnati, Ohio, Women's Christian Associa- 
tion organized. 

239 



History of a Social Institution 



November 10. Cleveland, Ohio, Women's Christian 
Association organized. 

December. St. Louis, Mo,, Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation organized. 

Penmanship and bookkeeping taught in Boston Associ- 
ation. 

1869 Botany taught in Boston Association. 

1870 Women's Christian Association of Dayton, Ohio, or- 
ganized. 

Women's Christian Association of Utica, N. Y., or- 
ganized. 

Women's Christian Association of Washington, D.C., 
organized. 

Women's Christian Association of Buffalo, N. Y., or- 
ganized. 

November. Women's Christian Association of Phila- 
delphia, Pa., organized. 

1871 February. Women's Christian Association of German- 
town, Pa., organized. 

June 22. Women's Christian Association of Newark, 

N. J., organized. 

October 9-10. First national conference of Women's 

Christian Associations, held in Hartford. 

Women's Christian Association of Springfield, Mass., 

organized. 

1872 Hartford dedicates first building erected for the use of 
the Young Women's Christian Association. 
November 12. Young women's meetings for prayer 
begin at Normal, 111. 

Class in machine sewing conducted by New York City 

Association. 

Miss Ella Doheny commences Sunday afternoon Bible 

class in New York City Association. 

1873 First Young Women's Christian Association organized 
in a student center, Normal University, Normal, 111. 

1874 History taught in Boston Association. 
Telegraphy taught in Philadelphia Association. 

1875 October 12-15. Women's Christian Association con- 
ference becomes international. 

240 



Chronological Table 



November 4. Young Ladies 5 Christian Association of 
Northwestern College, Naperville, El., organized 
(later Young Women's Christian Association). 

1876 October 17. Young Women's Christian Association 
organized in Southern Illinois Normal University, Car- 
bondale, 111. 

October 21. Young Women's Christian Association of 
Olivet College, Olivet, Mich., organized. 

1877 National conference of Women's Christian Associations 
adopts constitution as International Conference of 
Women's Christian Associations. 

October 30. Young Women's Christian Association of 
Lenox College, Hopkinton, Iowa, organized. 
Calisthenics taught in Boston Association by one of the 
boarders in the Warrenton Street Home. 

1879 Domestic Training School and ladies' cooking classes 
opened in Boston Association. 

1880 Public school cooking class in Boston Association, 
Classes in phonography, typewriting, photo negative, 
photo coloring, and painting on china in New York 
City Association. 

1 88 1 October. Committee on Young Women's Christian 
Association work in colleges and seminaries appointed 
by the Sixth International Conference of Women's 
Christian Associations. 

Beginning of work with teen-age girls, Oakland, Calif. 

Called "Little Girls' Christian Association." 

St. Louis Association offers a public course of cooking 

lessons by Juliet Corson. 

Technical design and free-hand enlarging taught in 

New York City Association. 

1882 Boston Association sends class to Miss Allen's gymna- 
sium. 

Household Training School opened by St. Louis Asso- 
ciation. 

1883 Course of emergency lectures instituted by Boston Asso- 
ciation. 

Baltimore, Md., opens rooms adapted for noon lunch 
as prominent feature. 

241 



History of a Social Institution 



1884 Young Women's Christian Association of Pleasant Val- 
ley township, Johnson County, Iowa, organized. 
February 7-11. First state Young Women's Christian 
Association organized at Albion, Mich., convention. 
February 14-17. State Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation of Ohio organized. 

November 15. Iowa State Young Women's Christian 
Association organized. 

December 8. Berkeley Street building, Boston Associ- 
ation, dedicated. Contained first Young Women's 
Christian Association gymnasium in America. 

1885 Kalamazoo, Mich., Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation organized. 

Delegation from state Associations attends international 
conference of the Women's Christian Associations at 
Cincinnati. 

1886 Lawrence, Kan., Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation organized. 

August 6-12. National Association of the Young 
Women's Christian Associations of the United States 
formed at Lake Geneva, Wis. (later the American 
Committee). 

1887 First state secretaries in Iowa and Ohio. 

Ypsilanti, Mich., Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation organized. 

Topeka, Kan., Young Women's Christian Association 
organized. 

Exhibits of class work in millinery and dressmaking 
held in Philadelphia Association. 
Calisthenics taught in New York City, Philadelphia 
and Poughkeepsie, N. Y., Associations. 
Self-governing club organized by Miss Grace Dodge 
in the Baltimore Association. 

1888 St. Joseph, Mo., Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation organized. 

Scranton, Pa., Young Women's Christian Association 
organized. 

Young Women's Christian Association Quarterly pub- 
242 



Chronological Table 



lished by the National Committee of Young Women's 

Christian Associations. 

Physical education in Worcester, Mass., Scranton, Pa., 

Coldwater, Mich., and Newburgh, N. Y. 

Current events class held in Worcester Association. 

Advanced classes in cutting and fitting held by New 

York City Association. 

Boston Association opens School of Domestic Science. 

1889 Constitution of the "National" Association of Young 
Women's Christian Associations changed to "Inter- 
national" to admit Associations in the British Prov- 
inces. 

First national gathering of secretaries at Bloomington, 

111. 

Young Women** Christian Association Quarterly 

changes name to the Evangel. 

1890 Kansas City, Mo., Young Women's Christian Associ- 
ation organized. 

Toledo, Ohio, Young Women's Christian Association 

organized. 

Trained attendants 5 class opened in Brooklyn, N. Y., 

Association. 

1891 Summer school at Bay View, Mich. 

Minneapolis, Minn., Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation organized. 

International Conference reorganized into the Inter- 
national Board of Women's Christian Associations. 
Cafeteria system introduced into the Kansas City As- 
sociation. 

1892 Preliminary meeting of World's Young Women's 
Christian Association in London, England. 

Busy Girls' Half Hour established by Dayton Associ- 
ation in the National Cash Register works. 

1893 International Board of Women's Christian Associations 
becomes the International Board of Women's and 
Young Women's Christian Associations. 

1894 World's Young Women's Christian Association or- 
ganized in London. Miss Annie M. Reynolds of the 
United States called as secretary. 

243 



History of a Social Institution 



April. The International Messenger^ official organ of 
the International Board, first issued. 
Miss Agnes Hill, first secretary on foreign field, goes 
to India. 

Toledo Association raises support for foreign secretary. 
Harlem, N. Y., Association clubs organized "Birth- 
day Building," "Literary" and "Annex Choral." 
1895 Affiliation of student Associations with World's Student 
Christian Federation. 

Industrial extension work begun in Milwaukee, Wis., 
Association, Maude Wolff, secretary. 

1897 Boston Association offers courses for Young Women's 
Christian Association secretaries. 

1898 First world conference of Young Women's Christian 
Association London. 

First county Association organized, Fillmore County, 
Minn. 

1899 International Committee of Young Women's Christian 
Associations becomes the American Committee of 
Young Women's Christian Associations, releasing Can- 
ada. 

American Department of the World's Committee cre- 
ated. 

1901 Headquarters opened by International Board at Chau- 
tauqua, N. Y., Assembly Grounds. 

Milwaukee includes a model housekeeping apartment 
in its new building. 

1902 Second world conference of Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association Geneva. 

Division of student and city conferences at Silver Bay, 
N. Y. 

1903 The Bulletin replaces the International Messenger as 
official organ of the International Board. 
Headquarters opened by the International Board at the 
Southern Chautauqua, Monteagle, Tenn. 
Industrial work opened in mill villages of South Caro- 
lina. 

1904 Secretaries Training Institute opened in Chicago, 111. 

244 



Chronological Table 



Miss Clarissa Spencer becomes secretary of the World's 
Young Women's Christian Association. 

1905 May 24. Manhattan conference considers union of the 
two national bodies. 

November 2-7. Eighteenth Biennial Conference of the 
International Board votes for union, Baltimore. 
Swimming taught in pool in Buffalo and in Montgom- 
ery, Ala. 

1906 Third world conference of Young Women's Christian 
Association Paris. 

January 2-4. Special convention of the American 
Committee Associations, at Chicago, votes in favor of 
union. 

The two national organizations come together to form 
one body, the Young Women's Christian Associations 
of the United States of America. 
December. First convention, held in New York City. 
December 7. Miss Grace H. Dodge elected president 
of the National Board of the Young Women's Chris- 
tian Associations. 

1907 Territorial form of organization adopted in several sec- 
tions. 

First issue of the new official organ of the National 

Board, the Association Monthly. 

Studio Club of New York City opens rooms. 

1908 The Young Women's Christian Associations of the 
United States of America occupies new headquarters. 
October 17. Woodford County, 111., Association or- 
ganized. 

First Federation of Industrial Clubs formed in De- 
troit. 
National Training School opened in New York City. 

1909 Organization of the Employed Officers Association. 
Second National Convention of the national organiza- 
tion St. Paul, Minn. 

1910 International Institute, first Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association work with foreign-speaking women, 
started in New York City. 

245 



History of a Social Institution 



Fourth world conference of Young Women's Chris- 
tian Association Berlin. 
Central Club for Nurses established in New York City. 

1911 Third National Convention Indianapolis, Ind. 
Course in "First Aid to the Injured" prepared in co- 
operation with the American Red Cross Society. 

Dr. Anna M. Brown starts an investigation into the 
physical welfare of women of the mill villages of the 
South. 

1912 New headquarters building for the national organiza- 
tion opened at 600 Lexington Avenue, New York 
City, containing offices and training school. 

Camp Fire Girls movement developed by the Young 
Women's Christian Association. 

1913 Fourth National Convention Richmond, Va. 
National conference grounds opened at Asilomar, Calif. 

1914 Fifth world conference of Young Women's Christian 
Association Stockholm . 

1915 Fifth National Convention Los Angeles, Calif. 
Headquarters and club house erected by the National 
Board on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition 
grounds at San Francisco, Calif. 

Work begun for immigrants in the town and country. 

1916 Every Member Jubilee celebrating fiftieth anniversary 
of the first American Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation (Boston). 

First summer conference for colored girls, held at At- 
lanta, Ga. 

Opening of Hollywood Studio Club for girls in the 
motion picture industry. 

1917 National Board organizes War Work Council. 

First conference of International Institutes, Pittsburgh. 
Organization of Overseas Committee of War Work 
Council, for work in Europe. 

1918 Conference of one hundred business and professional 
women New York City. 

1919 Various types of work with adolescent girls in the 
Young Women's Christian Association brought to- 

246 



Chronological Table 



gether into one movement, the Girl Reserves of the 
Young Women's Christian Association. 
Meeting in St. Louis to organize the National Fed- 
eration of Business and Professional Women. 
First national industrial conference, Washington, D.C. 
International Conference of Women Physicians, called 
by the Young Women's Christian Associations of the 
United States and held at national headquarters, New 
York City. 

Young Women's Christian Association work begun in 
Canal Zone. 

1920 Sixth National Convention Cleveland. Endorsement 
of the Social Ideals of the Churches. 

First Student Assembly, In connection with national 
convention. 

1921 Dodge Hotel opened in Washington, D.C. 

1922 Seventh National Convention Hot Springs, Ark. 
National Student Council organized. 

First National Assembly of Industrial Girls, Hot 
Springs, in connection with the convention. 
First issue of the Womans Press, national monthly 
magazine taking the place of the Association Monthly. 

1924 Eighth National Convention New York City. 

First National Assembly of Business and Professional 
Women, in connection with the national convention, 
New York City. 

World's Young Women's Christian Association com- 
mittee meeting held at Washington, D.C. 

1926 Ninth National Convention Milwaukee. 

New building of Hollywood Studio Club opened. 

1928 Tenth National Convention Sacramento, Calif. 

Sixth world conference of Young Women's Christian 
Association Budapest. An industrial and a business 
girl included in official delegation from the United 
States. 

1930 Eleventh National Convention Detroit, Mich. 

November. National conference held at New York 
City to consider emergency created by the unemploy- 
ment situation, particularly as it affects women. 

24.7 



History of a Social Institution 



1932 Twelfth National Convention Minneapolis. 

Celebration of twenty-fifth anniversary of forming of 

present national organization. 
1934 Thirteenth National Convention Philadelphia. 

Separate organization formed the National Institute 

of Immigrant Welfare. 



248 



Index 



AMERICAN COMMITTEE: Basis 23-25, 
47, 101, 103; Beginnings 23, 24; 
Conferences 48; Training 16, 

55- 
AMERICAN RELIEF ADMINISTRATION 

62, 190. 
Association Monthly 199. 

BASIS 95, io8ff, 175; American 
Committee 47, 101; Church 
109; International Board 47, 
10 1 ; Other Than Student 113; 
Personal 1 09, 113; Student 
22, 109, 113. 

BEGINNINGS OF Y. W. C. A.: In Eng- 
landiff; In United States sff, 

82ff. 

BIBLE CLASSES 7, 97. 

STUDY losff, 135. 



BOARDING HOMES see Housing. 
BOSTON 6, 9, 35, 82, 150. 
BUILDINGS see Property. 
BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN, 

National Federation of Clubs 

66, 153. 
BUSINESS GIRLS: Business Assembly 

70, 215, 228; National Council 

71; Work with 33, 70, 134, 

204, 214. 

CAFETERIAS see Food Service. 
CANADIAN ASSOCIATIONS, relation 
with- 23, 125. 

- DOMINION COUNCIL 125, 
CAUSE AND CURE OF WAR, CONFER- 

ENCE 172. 

CHARACTER BUILDING 39, 43. 
CHILOCCO INDIAN SCHOOL 34. 
CHURCH: relation to 2, 69, 96, 

98ff, 104, in, 113, nsff, 125, 

128. 

- BASIS 109. 
CHURCHES: Federal Council of- 109, 

135; Social Ideals of i67ff. 
CIVIL WAR 3, 4. 



COMMITTEE WORK 35ff, 
COMMUNITY CHESTS 72, 229. 
COMMUNITY, relation to 90, 112, 

222. 

CONSTITUTION, changes in see Basis. 
COUNCIL OF CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATIONS 

68. 

COUNTY ASSOCIATIONS see Rural. 
CRIMEAN WAR 2, 3, 178. 
CRATTY, MABEL 119, 120. 
CROSS-SECTION, PHILOSOPHY 3, 56, 

58, 203, 220. 

DODGE, GRACE H. 48, 119, 150. 

EDUCATION: Classes 7, 31, 40, 41, 
88; Health 92, 135, 152; 
Method -45, $8ff, 63, 730"; 
Physical 40; Religious 41, in, 

135- 

EIGHT WEEK CLUB PLAN see Rural. 
EMPLOYMENT SERVICES 10, 194, 197. 
ENGLAND liF, 150. 
Evangel n, 39, 45, 99, 199, 207, 

208. 

Faith and Works -14, 34, 38, 165, 

204. 
FEDERAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES 

109, 135, 167. 
FEDERATION OF INDUSTRIAL CLUBS 

60. 
FINANCING: Budget Making 14, 36; 

Community Chests 72, 229. 
FOOD SERVICE: Cafeterias 186. 

FOREIGN-BORN WOMEN AND GlRLS 

38ff, 184-6, ^197, 213-4; Inter- 
national Institutes 60, 64, 213. 
FOREIGN WORK: Overseas Committee 
130; Student 125, 129; Survey 
of 135, Hi- 

GIRL RESERVE MOVEMENT 64, 134, 
205. 

249 



Index 



GROUP ORGANIZATION 60, 65, 66, 



WORK 60, 74, 75, 222. 
PARTICIPATION 203, 216, 



228, 229. 
GUIDING PRINCIPLES 226. 

HEALTH EDUCATION 92, 135. 
HEALTH, WOMEN'S FOUNDATION FOR 

IS2-3- 

HILL, AGNES 126. 
HOUSING: Boarding Homes 7, 28ff, 

88; Residences 10, 28ff, 61, 

221. 

- WAR WORK COUNCIL COM- 
MITTEE 183. 

INDIAN WOMEN AND GIRLS 34, 60. 
INDIVIDUALS, work with 223. 
INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS, concern for 

4, 82, 107, 165-6. 
INDUSTRY, work with girls in 43, 

65, 70, 134, 154!!, 1 86, 2osff; In- 

dustrial Assembly 65, 70, 199, 

212, 213, 228. 
INTERNATIONAL BOARD: Basis 47, 

101, 103; Beginnings 20-1, 24; 

Conferences 20, 48, 102. 
INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE 23. 
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF 

WOMEN PHYSICIANS 152, 187. 
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTES^O, 64, 

ISS, 213. 

- CONFERENCE OF 64, 
International Messenger 164, 192, 

199. 
INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION SERVICE 

155-8. 
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, interest 

in 170-3. 
INTERNATIONAL SURVEY 135, 141$, 

227. 

JOHNSON, F. ERNEST 135, 141, 142, 

143, 227. 
JUVENILE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION 



KINNAIRD, MRS. ARTHUR 2ff. 

LADIES' CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION 5, 

95, 97- 

LADIES' CHRISTIAN UNION 5. 
LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITIES 198-200. 

25O 



LOCAL ASSOCIATION 166, 224; Au- 
tonomy of 121, 166, 230. 

MEMBERSHIP: Basis 47, 95, 103, 
1 08; Participation of 56, 108. 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TRAVELERS 

AID SOCIETIES 150-1. 
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF BUSINESS 

AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN'S 

CLUBS 66, 153. 
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF IMMIGRANT 

WELFARE 158-160. 
NATIONAL TRAINING SCHOOL 103, 

117, 132, 199- 
NEGRO WOMEN AND GIRLS 60, 66, 

I73ff, 184, 197, 205. 
NEW YORK CITY 5, u, 48, 60, 84, 

88, 95 150. 
NORMAL UNIVERSITY 21. 

OVERSEAS COMMITTEE, WAR WORK 
COUNCIL 130. 

PEACE: Cause and Cure of War Con- 
ference 130; Interest in 169. 

PENNYFATHER, MRS. 3. 

PERIODICALS: see Association 
Monthly, Evangel, Faith and 
Works, International Messenger, 
Womans Press. 

PHYSICAL EDUCATION -40. 

POLISH GREY SAMARITANS 186, 189. 

PRAYER UNIONS 2fL 

PROGRAM BUILDING 19, 73$. 

PROGRAMS 9, II, I33ff, 138, 196!, 

221. 

PROPERTY 42, 55-6. 

PUBLIC AFFAIRS 89, 167; Interna- 
tional Affairs 170, 173; Na- 
tional Committee of 169; Peace 
Legislation 169$; Social Legis- 
lation 167, 196, 210-11; Tem- 
perance 165; Women's Joint 
Congressional Committee 172. 

PUBLIC OPINION, forming of 19, 224. 

RAUSCHENBUSCH, WALTER -106. 

RECREATION" 12. 

RELIEF 76, 194, 197. 

RELIGION 175; Program of 103!!, 

HTff; Purpose 119. 
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 41, m, 135. 



Index 



RESIDENCES see Housing. 
REVIVALS 7, 81, 95. 
REYNOLDS, ANNIE 126. 
ROBARTS, EMMA aff. 
ROBERTS, MRS. MARSHALL 0. 5. 
RURAL WORK 33, 57, 112; Eight 
Week Club Plan 57- 

SHAFTSBURY, EARL OF 3. 

SIMMS, FLORENCE 119, 210, 212. 

SOCIAL AGENCIES, relation to 73. 

SOCIAL IDEALS OF THE CHURCHES 
x67ff. 

SOCIAL MORALITY, COMMISSION ON 
152, 187. 

SPENCER, CLARISSA 120. 

STUDENT: Assembly 67, 68; Bases 
of Membership 109; National 
Council 68; Council of Chris- 
tian Associations 68; Foreign 
Students 67, 129, 132; in In- 
dustry 215; Work with 2 iff, 
67, 204. 

STUDENT VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT 
26, 69, 125, 129. 

STUDIES 200. 

SUMMER SCHOOLS OF INDUSTRIAL 
WORKERS 1 54-5 . 

TEMPERANCE 1 65 . 

TRAINING: American Committee 
5V, Curricula 105, 117; Insti- 
tutes 117; National School 
103, 117, 132, 199; Seminars 
117. 

TRAVELERS' AID WORK 150. 

UNEMPLOYMENT 77, 191 if. 
UNION PRAYER CIRCLE 5. 



WAR BRIDES 183, 189. 

WAR WORK COUNCIL 62fT, 130, 155; 
Beginnings 150; Hostess House 
Work 181, 183, 188; Junior 
War Work Council 187; Over- 
seas Committee of 187; Patri- 
otic League 187; Polish Grey 
Samaritans 62, 186, 189; Pro- 
gram i82ff; Social Morality 
152, 187; Work in: France 181, 
188-9; Russia 181, 189, 190; 
Other Countries 190. 

WOMAN MOVEMENT 19, 79ff. 

Womans Press 103, 119, 145. 

WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE 
UNION 165. 

WOMEN'S FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH 

152, 153- 

WOMEN'S JOINT CONGRESSIONAL COM- 
MITTEE 172. 

WOMEN'S RIGHTS 79, 86. 

WORLD'S STUDENT CHRISTIAN FEDERA- 
TION 26, 1 08. 

WORLD'S Y.W.C.A, 138, 224; Actions 
116, 156, 157, 170, 210; Basis 
108, 116; Beginnings 26,126; 
Conferences- 71, 210; Relation 
to League of Nations 157. 

YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN" ASSO- 
CIATION iff, 21, 25, 60, 68, 72, 
73, 125, 143- 

YOUNG WOMEN s CHRISTIAN ASSO- 
CIATION: First Use of Name 3, 
5; National Board of 49, 54, 
63, 127, 224; National Organiza- 
tion of 47ff, 102, 103, 108. 

YOUNGER GIRLS 3 iff, 64, 134, 204; 
Girl Reserves64, 134, 205. 



is 
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